Reprise DVD: Review By Dodd

Reprise is an unexpectedly wonderful gem from Norway that captures young confusion quite accurately.
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
The movie is a beautifully shot character portrayal.
I suppose the special features, while not bad, are a little scattered and disorganized.
When the film Reprise begins, we are posed a "what if" scenario between two friends as they stand in front of a mailbox about to send off their manuscripts. Simply dropping the envelope in the mailbox seems easy enough, but taking such an action could forever change the future of Phillip (Anders Danielsen Lie) and Erik (Espen Klouman-Hoiner). In a quick and choppy directing style similar to that of Tom Twyker in Run Lola Run we catch a glimpse at what "could" happen to these two aspiring writers once the manuscripts make it to their destinations. Could it lead to fame or rejection? And if it does lead to success, will that success spark a downfall or fortune? As the film goes through the routine of what "could" or "will" happen with these two young men, I felt a sense of tension. Perhaps this is because I could relate to scenario because it is one like many that we deal with in life everyday. In fact, Reprise is about the decisions we make in life and the consequences we have to embrace or suffer through because of those decisions, and it is the way in which the film represents this game of chance so positively and negatively that makes it a fantastic film.

The film revolves around the aforementioned two friends Erik and Phillip. What ends up coming from mailing their manuscripts leads to success for Phillip and disappointment for Erik. Philip ends up becoming published and takes a position in the literary limelight. However, he also develops a sick obsession with his girlfriend Kari (Viktoria Winge) that mysteriously comes with his fame. This leads Phillip to a mental breakdown followed by institutionalization.

All of these events merely represent the first 20 minutes of Reprise. What follows is the majority of the film's plotline which follows Erik being there for Phillip after Phillip is finally free to live outside the walls of the institution and encouraged to stay away from his former lover Kari. Despite Erik and his other friends being there for him with offerings of rambunctious male bonding, Phillip cannot keep his mind off of Kari and ends up finding her. Even though he is discouraged from doing so, he believes that what is meant to happen in life will happen and what is meant to not happen will not. He specifically determines this by counting down from 10 to see if fate will give him a sign at the end of the countdown. Meanwhile, the tables become turned when Erik has the potential to have his own book published.

Reprise is a quiet and rather subtle movie that has the makings of a sleep-inducer, but I found myself pulled into its circle of characters and predicaments. What is particularly appealing about it is its emphasis on the hands that life deals us. Unless one is born as a wealthy heir, we really do not know what kind of success we will find, and whether or not that success will truly make us happy. The film has a sense of suspense built on this idea, especially when following Phillip. We come to know this character as quiet and well-meaning, but also unstable and possibly harmful. Once he begins using the countdown from 10 to insanely determine love, or even life or death, it becomes evident that not all things in life are non-controllable.

In addition to this aspect of intensity, Reprise is also a generally well-made film about its characters. At times it can be funny, not because the screenwriter wrote jokes, but because this group of guy friends are encountering the natural things in life that make us laugh such as going to a random house party on a Friday night where hook-ups and booze consumption are inevitable with hilarious results. This is the type of movie not driven by writing, but by its characters who have well-developed talents and flaws that make us laugh one minute or feel uneasy the next.
There are quite a few special features here, even though a couple of them could have been consolidated. Director Joachim Trier discusses how he whittled down many candidates to cast his male leads in "Casting Reprise", while Trier discusses his collaboration with the cinematographer to create ideal shots of close-ups and character-focused mis-en-scene in "All In Trier's Details." "Anecdotes" is a sit down with Trier and co-writer Eskil Vogt as they recall their youthful days knowing one another and how it inspired the content for this film. As smaller bits we get "Love's Not Easy", which discusses choreographing a sex scene and "So Sorry" that pointlessly puts together a montage of the characters saying the English word "sorry" throughout the film.

The DVD also includes deleted scenes.
Widescreen. Newcomer director Joachim Trier does a magnificent direction job with a look very much inspired by the French New Wave with rough natural lighting and many close-ups on the characters and their actions that really get into their minds and souls.
5.1 Dolby Surround. The movie is relatively quiet and focuses more on the dialogue between these characters. There is a strong-voiced male narrator whose involvement in the film is impeccably timed.
The film comes on a single disc which is in a standard DVD case. The front cover has a blurry shot of Phillip in the foreground with Kari being clearly visible in the background.
Reprise is an unexpectedly wonderful gem from Norway that captures young confusion quite accurately. The portrayal of these would-be writers is very engaging and keeps us focused because we really are invested in the possibility that one moment of success can lead to something on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The special features are not a bad supplement either. I would not suggest running out and buying this because it will appeal to certain tastes, but it should not go overlooked as a rental.

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