Reprise (Joachim Trier, 2006, Norway)

Reprise, the 2006 debut of Joachim Trier, is a remarkable first feature. While the film was acclaimed upon its initial release, it seems only now that Trier is getting worldwide recognition with the release of The Worst Person in the World. Like Worst PersonReprise is a coming-of-age story. This time, however, the focus is not on a woman but rather on two young men Philip (Anders Danielsen Lie, who also appeared in the next two films of Trier's "Oslo Trilogy") and Erik (Espen Klouman Hoiner). These young men are two aspiring writers whose creative competition drives the film forward. 

Stylistically, Reprise is a revelation. The film's opening is tremendous, with Philip and Erik standing before a mailbox. We are treated to fantastic visions of what their future lives could be - a narrative device that recurs again in this film, and also in Worst Person. This then transitions to a credit sequence wherein scenes from a parade in Oslo are set against a gritty live version of Joy Division's "New Dawn Fade" - a choice that captures the desperation of feeling that the world around you is too small. 

Trier manages to present a coming-of-age story without all of the well-worn cliches - in many cases, he simply refutes them or diverts our expectations. It is rare for a film essentially about the written word to capture the dynamism of writing as an act, but Reprise manages to do just that. As someone on Letterboxd put it, Reprise is Trainspotting, but with writing instead of drugs. Trier also shares particular insights into male friendships and male competition, in a set of characters who are often quite unappealing. There is a frank honesty here which is rare to see in many films, and Trier would explore it in later works including Oslo, August 31, and Worst Person.



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