Movie News & Reviews

Guys who have yet to grow up

For men who have spent their 20s living in a state of arrested development, "Reprise" just may hit too close to home.

The Norwegian film, made two years ago by director Joachim Trier (no relation to Lars von), invites us into the company of local men (or, shall we say, boys) and shows us how ugly and unhealthy continuous male bonding can become.

The movie mostly focuses on the friendship of Erik (Espen Klouman-Høiner) and Phillip (Anders Danielsen Lie), two guys who long to be successful writers. When we first spot them about to drop their manuscripts into a mail slot, the movie immediately zooms through all the spectacular things that will happen to the pair once their books get published.

But none of that occurs. What does happen is that Erik's manuscript gets rejected while Phillip's gets published. Along the way, Phillip has a nervous breakdown.

Doctors say his psychosis is triggered by his intense love for his girlfriend Kari (Viktoria Winge), who is advised to stay away once he checks out of the hospital. But she can't. Erik wishes he had at least some kind of intense feeling for his well-meaning, rarely seen girlfriend, whom he tries to avoid at all cost.

And here is where "Reprise" tackles its most prevalent enemy: women.

Erik and Phillip hang out with a stable of bros (a league of nowhere-near-extraordinary gentlemen, you could say), most of whom believe that finding a nice dame and settling down signals the end of one's creativity.

While it's easy to assume that Trier is creating a misogynistic view of the opposite sex, he is actually exposing the immature femiphobia most young guys who aspire to be Truly Great Men have at that age.

Like nearly every Judd Apatow-produced movie, "Reprise" gives us male characters who have yet to grow up. They probably still think women are yucky. Since most of them aspire to live the lives of their literary lone-wolf idols (Erik and Phillip go so far as to stalk their particular reclusive idol in a park), they fail to recognize that none of them has an identity he can call his own.

But unlike Apatow movies, "Reprise" is more haunting than side-splittingly funny. As it features one character who must re-acclimate to daily living after a psychotic episode, Trier shows how trying to live the life you want, while living the life you thought you wanted, can drive you crazy.

"Reprise" literally takes a novelistic approach to telling its story, as Trier (along with screenwriter Eskil Vogt) dips and detours into many scenes and subplots (with the help of a narrator), complete with a delicious punk spirit that would make Tom Tykwer proud.

While it is said that "Reprise" is an homage to François Truffaut and other French New Wave filmmakers, the films also owes a bit to Federico Fellini, since it does seem like a kinetic Norwegian "I, Vitelloni."

A cutting, cautionary tale for guys who still don't get it, "Reprise" may be the best movie about friendship and maturity no man will ever want to see again.