Just after snakes, the theme song to Twin Peaks, preachers, Alan Rickman, escalators, and reality dating shows, as a writer, one of the most terrifying items I’m faced with literally several times a day is the blinking cursor on my computer screen. Like those men you just hate to love and love to hate, that cursor taunts me, seduces me, and enchants me to pick myself up, kick myself in the rear, mingle with the backspace key, rely too much on sugarless gum and caffeine, and reach for the thesaurus hoping to create something worthy of that blank page. Why go through the agony? Since as much as I try to put off face-to-face time with the word processor by killing far too many minutes joking around via e-mail, I have no choice but to write, as babies have no choice but to cry, and often the best place to cry to the world and console yourself into serenity is right in front of that flickering cursor. It’s a persistent battle that writers face, whether we want to admit it or not from those smug individuals who claim that writer’s block is a myth to the same annoying ones who never cease to amaze by the sheer volume of prolific work they crank out in a given year. And heartbreakingly, even after one has gone through all of the required phases of the creative process and is justifiably spent-- in need of a stretch, a walk, a laugh or a hug-- the lingering insecurity continues on.
“Do I really want to expose the world to this?” a twenty-three year old character asks right at the beginning of Danish born Joachim Trier’s Norwegian feature-length debut, Reprise, as he stands alongside his good friend, securely gripping heftily filled manila envelopes in front of a public mailbox. Seeking literary glory and all of the fame and fortune that goes with it, both Phillip (Anders Danielsen Lie) and Erik (Espen Klouman-Hoiner) decide to take the plunge, submitting their manuscripts out into that vast unforgiving void of the publishing world as Trier’s restless camera which-- much like its youthful, hyper, never contented and always changing characters-- proceeds to flash forward into the world of possibilities this fateful act would have on their lives, friendships and careers.
While Erik’s work is rejected, Phillip’s is given the benefit of publication and publicity, which unfortunately seems to be more than the young man can handle or had possibly envisioned when he was alone in his apartment cranking out the work filled with fear and exhilaration in trying to satisfy that tantalizing cursor. Institutionalized for six months following a horrifying breakdown, Erik finds his once exuberant pal changed—detached and distant—with a battle-scarred body and glassy eyes either from prescription drugs or disillusionment as he discovers he’s unable to slide back into step with his unruly clique of fellow young men who spend far too much time and money debating literature and music and hiding their total lack of understanding about women with misogynistic rants and generalizations.
Of the three main women in the movie who are relegated to supporting players in Trier’s obvious ode to white European male angst and artistic temperament set to the tune of Truffaut and Godard styled New Wave (in which some of the masters' works cited in Trier’s homage almost make one want to scream out the titles like we’re watching a cover band playing the favorite songs of a mix tape from our past), we’re the most fascinated by Viktoria Winge’s understated portrayal of Kari. With as Manohla Dargis noted an appearance that definitely calls to mind Godard’s former love and one-time muse Anna Karina, Winge’s Kari plays the soulful, emotionally torn and equally conflicted on-again, off-again love of Phillip who struggles to try and go through the motions recreating their most romantic dates, which is especially apparent in a heartbreaking trip to Paris where they realize that not just the fire has vanished but in its place has conjured up two competing magnets wanting to push them apart and pull them together either for love or maybe just comfortable yet possibly ill-advised old time’s sake.
Stylistically inventive and showing off its New Wave roots proudly from the start with some grainy black and white cinematography that-- to cite two of Godard’s titles will leave you Breathless while watching this Band of Outsiders. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as completely enraptured by the work as most of my contemporaries, feeling it lacked the emotional spine more evident in the tenderness of Truffaut (Jules and Jim) and needed Godard’s penchant for wide open spaces (Pierrot Le Fou) as the claustrophobic set pieces and slightly blurry white subtitles start to tire us out in its rambling final act that made me wonder if perhaps working on the screenplay for five years (Wikipedia) had possibly caused the filmmakers to spend too much time in front of that cursor and too little time out on the streets, breathing the air like the forefathers of the New Wave.