REPRISE is far from the first film to capture the ebullience of being a young adult, but it is one of the rare ones to consider the full spectrum of post-adolescence emotions. Both the thrill of having an entire adulthood ahead of one's self and all the anxieties and uncertainties that come with the territory are given equal measure.
We meet best friends Philip (Anders Danielsen Lie) and Erik (Espen Klouman-Høiner) as they simultaneously deposit manuscripts of their first books into a mailbox. Immediately, an omniscient narrator accompanies a breathlessly paced montage of the subsequent acclaim and intellectually stimulating adventures bestowed among these two young men and their published works--but it's only an idyllic version of what they hope will happen. In actuality, Philip's book is published, but Erik's is rejected. Six months pass, and the film resumes with Erik and a few friends driving to a mental health facility to pick up Philip, who is recovering following a suicide attempt.
From there, the film proceeds forward, with a few carefully chosen flashbacks. We learn that Philip's collapse was partially brought on by the end of a brief but passionate, obsessive relationship with Kari (Viktoria Winge). As Erik takes care of his friend, finds a publisher for his own book and slowly grows disillusioned with his surroundings, Philip has lost the will to write, or do much of anything. When Kari re-enters his life, his behavior increasingly points towards signs of serious mental illness (rather than stress) that may be to blame for his malaise. All three leads are very good: Lie keeps Philip from coming across as too much of an enigma, Winge tackles the girlfriend role with grit and subtlety, and Klouman-Høiner holds our attention even as his character is the film's most normal and least angst-ridden.
In his first feature, Norwegian director Joachim Trier proves himself a skilled borrower: the narration is straight out of Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, the graphics and narrative construction are reminiscent of TRAINSPOTTING, and the overall attitude reeks of French New Wave (particularly Godard). Despite all this, he's not a poseur, for as REPRISE recalls these touchstones, it often feels nothing like them. The pacing and drained-out colors are more common to a Dogme film, and the tone is moody and atmospheric but not pretentious. As much as Trier loves his ambitious characters, there's a sense of detached wisdom towards them that keeps the film from feeling contrived.