Reprise (2006)

Joachim Trier’s debut feature is still his most striking work—a youthful, frenetic immersion into the intellectual and emotional psyches of two best friends who hope for a big break as authors.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review #2,423

Dir. Joachim Trier
2006 | Norway | Drama | 107 mins | 1.85:1 | Norwegian
Not rated – likely to be M18 for sexuality and language

Cast: Anders Danielsen Lie, Espen Klouman Hoiner, Viktoria Winge
Plot: Erik and Philip have been best friends since childhood and both want to become writers. While Erik’s manuscript is refused by the publishers as lacking in talent, Philip is eagerly welcomed and overnight becomes a young star in Norway’s literary scene. Soon, their young dreams clash with reality.
Awards: Won Discovery Award (Toronto)
International Sales: Nordisk Film

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Literary Arts; Ambition; Coming-of-Age
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: MUBI
Spoilers: No

Reprise is Joachim Trier’s debut feature and the first part of his thematic ‘Oslo’ trilogy that would be completed with Oslo, August 31st (2011) and The Worst Person in the World (2021). 

Having seen all of his films thus far, I think this is still his most striking work, made in a style that he would make unmistakable in subsequent features. 

His filmmaking blends intellectualism with artistic freedom, and what better way to serve this approach than by situating Reprise in the heart of a story about two best friends who hope for a big break as authors. 

Phillip and Erik have each written a book with varying critical results, leading them to different paths; yet the ingenuity of the script (co-written by Trier and The Innocents’ Eskil Vogt) is that everything must come full circle.  A rise must meet with a fall, and vice versa. 

“You are such a damn cliché.”

One of the running motifs of the film sees Phillip doing countdowns in order to take in the moments as uncertainty or madness sets in.  That very much sums up the tone of the film—bliss and insanity must co-exist, so are frenzy and calm, ambition and regret. 

Trier’s filmmaking here somewhat reminds us of the French New Wave—the feeling of a cool, radical buzz swirling around the new kid on the block. 

With creative, frenetic editing work that gives way to quiet and stillness, it is hard to pin down Reprise except to experience it, like a youthful scream for joy even as reality hits like a sledgehammer. 

Trier has successfully captured what it means to be young and hopeful, but also emotionally immature, albeit from the point-of-view of white middle-class males whose definition of success is the desire for the self-respect that they find ever so elusive. 

Grade: A-



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