Reprise ★★★★

If I hadn't been absent from film culture for much of the 2000s, I might have caught up with Joachim Trier's work before now. This debut feature is made with quite some economy of means, and with a certain amount of youthful brio and at times great humour (well, I laughed at quite a few scenes), humour that comes from some at times bleak situations, but never in a nasty vein. Most strikingly, though, it's a film told (at times narrated, like a novel, which is apropos after all) not in a continuous present tense but in something closer to the subjunctive. Philip would do that, and Erik would do something else, and sometimes entire sequences seem to be projections, or fantasies, or maybe they happened, or didn't (it's all fiction, after all). It gives the film a sense of boundless potential, held in check by the repeated refrain of counting down, which lends a curious sense that everything could also, just as easily, very quickly end.

In any case, the film concerns two friends who are both novelists, and have a competitive relationship, not that they admit it to one another. They hang out with a very masculine group of friends, and it's that kind of laddish male bonding aspect of the film which is the weakest to me (tying it in with too many other self-consciously auteurist filmmakers, for whom the strange rites of masculinity and competition seem to be of supreme interest). That said, it's handled with some nuance, even if women characters at times have the burden of somewhat needing to come in and rescue these men. (Also, as an aside, the soundtrack is great, whether it's the early Delerue refrain taking us straight back to Godard's Le Mepris, or the 80s post-punk, blasts of Le Tigre, etc.)

No, I enjoyed this film. This director has a future in filmmaking. (And now I need to go see some of those.)