The Norwegian film “Reprise” opens with hopeful authors Phillip (Anders Danielsen Lie) and Erik (Espen Klouman-Høiner) putting their manuscripts in the same mailbox. Phillip and Erik aren’t your average 20-something guys; we learn that they spent their lunch money on books and records. Avid readers and lovers of punk music, Phillip and Erik are destined for something, but what? Director/Co-writer (Joachim Trier) immediately shows us what could have been for Phillip and Erik, taking us on could-be flashes of great triumph and great tragedy, all the while a nameless narrator giving details that don’t matter so much so as they intrigue. The narrator does continue to add comment here and there throughout the film, offering tidbits about the characters we’re introduced to. It’s almost like reading a novel where even the minor details are divulged in hopes of making the characters more sympathetic, if not at least more human.
When we finally come out of the “might have been” future, we learn what really happened to Phillip and Erik. We learn that Phillip’s book was published and Erik’s was not. From there, Phillip meets and falls for Kari (Viktoria Winge). The couple seems to have a lovely relationship until Phillip begins to obsess over her, eventually losing control and ending up in a hospital to recover. Erik, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to lose himself to his girlfriend of three years, Lillian (Silje Hagen), but instead keeps her from interacting with his friends, or ever being a large part of his life. Two very different writers–Phillip the talented writer who impresses Erik with his writing, and Erik the agonizing writer who feels relief when he discovers he’s not actually talented– spend their time commenting on the process that overwhelms them both.
Both characters often drift off and imagine what could be, which is often interrupted by their reality, which is seemingly less full of life. Once Phillip is released from the hospital, he tries to move past his obsession with Kari, but can’t seem to go without seeing her. Phillip (who doesn’t want to write anymore) continues to rebuild his relationship with Kari whom he takes to Paris to recreate the first time they went there together. Meanwhile, Erik continues to rework his first novel, which is finally accepted by a publisher. One of the great moments of the film is when Erik meets a reclusive writer, Sten Egil Dahl (Sigmund Sæverud). There’s so much here, so much is said in just a few words, and wonderful visual composition.
It’s hard to watch Erik and Phillip as they struggle to come to terms with their actual present-day lives, and the actual potential for their futures. Angst-filled is one way to describe it, heartbroken might be another. What is more interesting than their quest to become writers, is the relationship the two young men have. When Trier focuses on their relationship, I’m drawn to the screen, eager to learn more about who they were in the past and how they got to this point in their life.
What makes this film interesting isn’t the story so much as actors, Anders Danielsen Lie and Espen Klouman-Høiner. Anders Danielsen Lie is especially moving as a tormented talent. There are shots of him where Trier just focuses on his movements, his expressions and they tell a story deeper than the one we get here through words and flashbacks and flash forwards. While the interlaced pieces of history and “could be futures” add more depth to the film, they sometimes take away from the overall story which is really about these two characters.
While I appreciate what Trier was trying to do by creating a whole story in fragmented pieces, I can’t help but wonder how much more touching and honest it would have been had he used fewer pieces and more simplicity, more straightforward story telling. Trier’s direction is fantastic, the cinematography is gorgeous (just ragged enough to mimic Erik and Phillip), the story is there, but by the end of the film you just feel like there was too much going on and, somehow, at the same time, not quite enough to make “Reprise ” feel complete.
VIDEO: Miramax presents "Reprise" in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the film's original aspect ratio. Image quality is pretty standard, never looking terrible and never looking exceptional, either. Sharpness and detail are acceptable, as while the picture never looked crystal clear, it never looked soft to the point of appearing blurry or hazy, either.
Aside from that, the picture also displayed some minor edge enhancement and pixelation. For a movie that's gathered dust for so long, it appears unexpectedly clean, with no dirt, dust or other instances of wear. Colors look a little subdued, and appear accurately presented.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (Norwegian w/English subtitles) offered excellent audio quality, although as one may expect, this was an almost completely dialogue-driven presentation. Audio quality was just fine, with crisp dialogue.
A behind the scenes look at the process of casting “Reprise”. Footage of actors auditioning is used here as the actors talk about the process of being cast in their roles. Director/co-writer Joachim Trier also discusses what it took to find the right people to play the characters. It’s always interesting to see how the casting process works, especially when interspersed with footage.
All in Trier’s Details
Director/Co-writer Joachim Trier talks about the process of creating the look of “Reprise” from finding the perfect angles, lighting and locations. This is more of a straight-forward informative piece, but it has some behind the scene tours of the sets, and some interesting pieces of information on the process of getting the look of “Reprise” just right, as well as the process of collaboration.
Director/co-writer Joachim Trier and co-writer Eskil Vogt discuss meeting each other and pieces of their past, as well as what led them to make “Reprise” and what they hoped to achieve and express through the film.
Love’s Not Easy
Actor Anders Danielsen Lie, Director/co-writer Joachim Trier discuss choreographing the love scene between Phillip and Kari. There’s some behind the scenes footage with discussion of how the scene seemed to go. There’s also some shots of the scene being filmed along with direction on where to move this hand or that hand, etc. They also discuss what the scene meant in the film.
There are 12 deleted scenes, some of which are very nice scenes that didn’t necessarily have to be in the film to make it complete, but were certainly nice afterthoughts. I’m glad they are included here because they add something new to the film. Definitely worth checking out.
This is a humorous little grouping of moments where the word “Sorry” is used by actors. The bonus feature begins by stating: “Danish Editor Olivier Bugge Coutté was frequently told by Norwegians that Danish people use many English words, including “sorry.” As a result, he put together the following sequence.”
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Final Thoughts: "Reprise" may have a few concerns regarding the screenplay, but it certainly offers strong lead performances. The DVD offers acceptable audio/video quality and a nice selection of extras. A recommended rental.
The Film B-