Loss of identity and striving for accomplishment find the two male characters of Joachim Trier's movie, Reprise, in medias res. The movie has a nonlinear narrative that takes the action back, forth and beyond. It is sizzling to the point of throwing its viewers into a secret, private league of their own. In a word, Reprise is far from making it big into the mainstream cinema and peculiar in the use of Fingerfucked by the Prime Minister as its recurring song -a movie for connoisseurs.
However, there is something about the film that moves you in terms of performances and the topics that are subtly touched by Joachim Trier's paintbrush. Or should I say intimate lens? Philip (Anders Danielsen Lie) and Erik (Espen Klouman-Hoiner) are two buddies who love to read, have uncertain feelings and views where women are concerned, and have been part of a group of other friends ever since primary school. Philip writes a novel, yet his success and his new relationship with Kari are too much to handle, so he has a nervous breakdown and is committed to hospital. Erik is by his side when he returns and encourages him to pick things from where he left off, but Philip has a hard time coping with reality as it is. It is now Erik's turn to have his novel published. Recognition comes with a high price since it offers no key to identity and self-accomplishment. You need to distance yourself from everything familiar that pushes your buttons, leave poetry aside, and embark on a voyage towards yourself.
Writing is such an exhausting process that, upon closing the final pages, you feel strangely drained, yet empowered. The feeling can be so overwhelming that the writer needs to lose himself to a world of his own. Remarkable characters live whereas their ordinary maker goes into agony. Philip wrote a book and met a great woman at the same time and it turned out to be too unbearable for him to cope with both; love and writing burnt him fast and completely. When he returned from hospital, words seemed to fail him, he looked at those around him with different eyes and had to make a tough choice, counting from ten to one: Kari (Viktoria Winge) or inspiration. And again choice itself proved to be depleting him of physical strength. To Philip, love was the driving force, whereas to Erik, love stood in his way of becoming an authentic, meaningful writer.
Such choices are beyond our conscious reach; we are simply drawn to the fleeting light, aware of the danger of having our wings burnt, yet too numb to act differently. The way the two friends and their group is described is poetic and manages to capture their essence of youth- a time of soul-searching, loving, losing, succeeding, hurting, disappointing and hating. Ups and downs are personal for each young man, no recipes, no judging, simply surviving this stage in their lives. Beaches, Paris and Oslo are the places that resonate with their feelings, inspiring to their young minds, decisive to their choices. But are emotions and dreams likely to be refelt? Is reprise an option or a deluding idea? Well, in Joachim Trier's opinion, some things are bound to pick from where they left, others are prone to other vulnerable choices.
Reprise is a movie I wish I had seen in my early twenties, when I needed answers and looked for the essential questions; it is a slice of life as it is, no embellishing resolutions, no fake emotions. Simply living to the best and the fullest!