All the bipolar young literary men: Reprise’s first-time director Joachim Trier references DeLillo, Joy Division and Russ Meyer, and gets drunk on possibility in tangents and flash-forwards — when his exhilaration isn’t stabbed by self-awareness or drained by depression. No sooner have Oslo twentysomethings Philip (Anders Danielsen Lie) and Erik (Espen Klouman-Høiner) submitted their first novels than Reprise races through alternate outcomes, informed by their romantic notions of the writer’s life. Reprise’s friction comes from the difference between life as read and dreamed about and as lived: Erik’s stability nags him, even as Philip’s breakdowns deconstruct self-destructive genius.
Trier (scion of a filmmaking family and once a teen skateboarding champ) is, like Philip, Erik and their crew, prankish and well-read; he also gets how guys stage top-this intellectual bull sessions as both pissing contest and hedge against exposing themselves to girls. (Somebody quotes Nietzche to the effect of bros before hos.) Trier has sympathy to a fault for Doc-booted Kari (Victoria Winge), who starts as Philip’s muse and ends up his nurse — he’s almost apologetic, like he knows we know he’d rather be out with the boys. Their icons are his icons, after all.
Trier invents a reclusive author for Philip and Erik to idolize, mocking up editions of his books (indeed, his whole literary milieu), and the discography of their favorite punk band (whose hit is ‘Finger-fucked by the Prime Minister’). The difference between totally digging Reprise and just admiring it is maybe a matter of the secret kinship that clicks into place, or doesn’t, with each name dropped. Kinda the point, for a movie with the nouvelle vague’s love of the personal canon that forges friendships and fuels creativity.