STUDIO: Miramax
MSRP: $23.99
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
• Casting Reprise
• All in Trier’s Details
• Anecdotes
• Love’s Not Easy
• Deleted Scenes
• So Sorry

The Pitch

The best thing to come out of Norway since Fortinbras!

The Humans

Espen Klouman Høiner. Anders Danielsen Lie. Viktoria Winge. Henrik Elvestad. Christian Rubek. Odd Magnus Williamson.

“All right, Sally. Now show me one more time what Mr. Brimley did.”

The Nutshell

Erik (Høiner) and Phillip (Lie) are sensitive modern gentlemen, who know that it’s time to grow up and distance themselves from their douchebag friends. Instead, the two end up growing apart from each other, and without this steadying relationship their lives get off track from the best laid plans. At the age of 23, each submits a manuscript to a publisher: Erik receives rejection slips, while Phillip’s novel becomes a cult hit, accumulating fans and praise. But the success and a growing psychosis take their toll, and Erik has to watch his best friend’s descent, all while trying to improve his own writing and get out from under Phillip’s literary shadow.

Erik auditions for Blood Hitler.

The Lowdown

Whenever I pick up an anthology of poetry or fiction, I invariably end up more interested in the author bios than the actual work. So many of the writers seem to have led sad, interesting (and by interesting I mean sad) lives full of madness, romantic obsession, and relocation to Paris. Reprise has all that in spades and is engrossing for the same two reasons those blurbs were: it shows bad things happening to smart people, and it’s not about writing at all.

Writer/director Joachim Trier (no relation to Lars) uses the boys’ unequal literary successes as a surprisingly fitting metaphor for the natural divergence between friends in their early twenties. Erik and Phillip are genuine friends, and that doesn’t change – one always smiles when the other walks in the room – but circumstances, and their own ambitions, consistently pull the young men apart. As an audience, we’re never sure if Phillip really is a better author, or just has more luck than Erik. He certainly doesn’t work any harder.

They’re in an awkward period where a group of buddies from their high school days isn’t cutting it anymore. There’s the alpha male (Rubek), who thinks of himself as an expert PUA and doles out dating advice. There’s the vulgarian (Elvestad) who delights in upsetting political correctness. There’s the Salacious Crumb (Williamson) who sits back and cackles at everyone else’s misfortune. No one wants to be the first to abandon the others, but eventually each does in his own way. All of these characters end up having rather cliché fates, which is somewhat fitting, since they were clichés to begin with, but it’s still the movie’s biggest weakness.

Morten auditions for The Descent.

The reason small things like that can seem so disappointing is because Reprise invites close attention, and 95% of the time rewards you for it in interesting ways. There’s one character whose face we don’t see until a crucial moment, but the movie lets you figure that out for yourself, while it slyly moves along as if nothing had happened. On my first viewing, I didn’t realize what I had just seen. In that same vein, many sequences towards the end take place in Erik’s head, but if you’re not at the top of your film-watching game you’ll miss that aspect and think they really happened. As it is with Hot Fuzz or Primer, each new viewing of Reprise will reveal that everything is far more intricate – and set up far earlier – than you had previously thought.

As the title suggests, the film is about the past and memory, and trying to recapture a moment. For Phillip, it’s his relationship with Kari (Winge) – to him, she represents a time before the success and the madness, a time when his life was simple and happy. Of course, his efforts to woo her back quickly lead to creepiness for her and despair for him. As an assignment for your seventh viewing, count all the ways in which Phillip moves backwards in the film – right-to-left across the screen, in the opposite direction of traffic arrows, back to locations he visited in the beginning, etc.

I’d never seen a Norwegian film before, but if it weren’t for the language you could have convinced me Reprise was French. The film looks like something from the Nouvelle Vague, with its handheld aesthetic, its jump cuts, and its one ridiculously cute girl. The movie’s also full of Jeunet-esque digressions (with Jeunet-esque narration) into the characters’ personalities, pasts, and what-ifs. One hilarious early scene shows the guys’ musings on their future as famous authors, while they constantly revise the specifics. Then of course, a good portion of the film, in scenes both imaginary and real, takes place in Paris.

“Lie back and relax as I telepathically explore your hard drive. Years of contemplation with Nepalese monks have bestowed upon me insights such as your email password, bank statements, and your recent addition of Jeremy Renner to the list known as mancrushes.txt.”

Overall, Reprise is a great movie and one I’d easily put it in the top ten of whatever year it counts as having come out in. I’ve never seen a film paint such an accurate picture of what it’s like for a certain type of person to grow up in today’s world. Erik, Phillip, and Kari are balanced, realistic characters, who make me wish I was a more skilled review writer, so that I could better describe them and their story.

The Package

The back-of-the-box description of the film starts with “From one of the producers of the Academy Award®-winning No Country for Old Men” and continues to be weird and misleading. Other than that little textual failure, this is a fine, simple package that everyone should have on his or her shelf. The disc includes several deleted scenes, worth watching to hear the many funny actors take the dialogue in amusing directions that never made the cut. I’d love to know whether these scenes were scripted or improv’ed.

Also included are various featurettes, mostly focused on interviews with Trier and his co-writer Eskil Vogt. It’s obvious the men are great friends, and quite similar to Erik and Phillip in the film. More importantly, they’re smart and well spoken and able to describe their approach to the planning and execution of Reprise. These interviews can get repetitive, but I liked the film so much I sat through them all, and you probably will, too.

9.4 out of 10