“Reprise” is an energetic romp through creative frustration, stagnant relationships, the fear of change and romance-fueled insanity. Writer/director Joachim Trier has crafted a work that’s deeper, funnier and more inventive than most indie films about young creative types lost in youthful exploits.
The film follows the complimentary ebb and flow of two best friends and aspiring novelists, Erik (Espen Klouman-Hoiner) and Phillip (Anders Danielsen Lie), and their circle of friends, lovers and annoying acquaintances. They both trained themselves on the writing of Sten Egil Dahl, an old, reclusive writer who is a legend and an enigma, and even tried to take their picture with him when he didn’t know it. Their dream isn’t money, but to one day inspire other people in the same way.
Voice-over narration ties the film’s faster-paced scenes together. Hypothetical futures that would run their course in the characters’ fantasy worlds bookend the film, appropriately marrying their flair for fiction to reality. Fast-pace sequences introduce new characters and explain the history of the group of friends, which sprang from a mutual love for a punk rock band.
Erik, the bigger dreamer of the two, shapes into the film’s protagonist as Phillip—who got his novel published first—slips into insanity. The doctors attribute his decline to an obsessive love for his girlfriend, but it’s impossible to forget about a random sequence prior to his shift, in which a car hits him as he crosses the street. Phillip says that he feels fine afterwards, but it clearly affects him, through either a physically sustained concussion or the internal revelation that he can’t count down out-loud from 10 to zero to predict all of life’s significant moments.
Whatever the answer may be, “Reprise” leaves us to ponder it, along with life’s other unanswered questions. The film, which was Norway’s selection for the 2006 Best Foreign Film Oscar, is an ode to dreamers, would-be Peter Pans and the random glory of it all.