Reprise DVD Review

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
While the cover for Reprise is not bad, it seems to be a bit off the mark for me.  The cover is a shot of Philip (Anders Danielsen Lie) in the foreground, somewhat out of focus, with an in focus Kira (Viktoria Winge) studying him in the background.  To me this is a great photo, and it completely represents the relationship that the two characters have in the movie, but Reprise isn’t really about these two individuals.  True, Philip and Kira are a large part of the movie, but really Reprise is more about the relationship and comparison of Philip’s and Erik’s character (Espen Kloiman Hoiner).  The relationship of the two writers is the base of the movie, and Philip’s relationship with Kira is a separate story.  I would have liked a shot of Philip and Erik, or at least of the three characters, but it feels as if the cover misrepresents the movie in my opinion.

The menus are nice and modern, and were pretty decent.  The screen rotates and twists and presents different clips form the film in black and white, with the menu choices in the middle.  It looked very nice, and it sure beat any static menus that I have seen lately.  Interestingly, at the very beginning of the menus sequence, there is a screen with both Philip and Erik, which seems more appropriate than the cover shot of Philip and Kira.

Features: 7/10

  • Casting Reprise – This short feature includes director Joachim Trier discussing the various decisions that went into getting the right cast for Reprise.  He talks about getting the relationships right, and watching them develop between the actors before they ever were put together on film.  This short is just over 7 minutes long, and is fun to watch.  It includes interviews with the actors themselves, discussing the casting process.
  • All in Trier’s Details– This is another short piece that includes Joachim Trier’s views on the movie itself, from the writing of the script to the feel of the movie that he was trying to portray.  He discusses the cinematography, the editing, and the people who were involved in making Reprise look and feel like Trier imagined it to be.
  • Anecdotes– Trier and Eskil Vogt, who both wrote the film, sit down to discuss the creation of Reprise.  the two were unlikely friends who joined up in school to create the story for Reprise.  They go on to discuss how various events in real life came to be parts of their story for the movie.  Pretty interesting view of how the story came to be made.
  • Love’s Not Easy– This is a very interesting short about making the one sex scene that was in Reprise.  It gives a behind the scenes view of just how difficult it can be to get a scene to come across as passionate and real, and just what Trier wanted the scene to look and feel like.  It kind of takes the magic out of the scene in my  opinion, but it is a fascinating watch.
  • Deleted Scenes – This is pretty self explanatory really.  There are about 12 scenes that were either deleted totally or shown in their expanded versions.
  • So Sorry– This is a funny little bit about how Norwegians have been accused of using the English word “sorry” too much in their everyday lexicon.  It is a really short bit where the actors are shown blurting out “sorry” either after messing up lines or actually in the movie itself (remember, the entire film is in Norwegian with English or Spanish subtitles).  Very funny.

Overall not a bad set of extras.  There is no commentary feature here, but that is to be expected as it would have had to have been subtitled.  Short and sweet features though, and very watchable.

The Movie: 8/10
I liked Reprise quite a a bit.  It is an engaging, funny and dark movie all at the same time.  Reprise follows the paths of two twenty-something Norwegian males as they begin their journey to become writers.  The movie starts off with Philip and Erik standing next to a mail post box, getting ready to send off their manuscripts for approval.  Basically they are both saying that things will change for them when they take this next step, and the rest of the movie follows their lives as their quest to become published becomes reality.

In an interesting technique, the movie’s narrator begins to describe the path that the two will take, as the scenes portray the acts the narrator describes, but then changes.  It is a strange mix of flashback and rewrite, as the tale morphs right on screen to describe the way the two individuals will meet in the future to write a book together.  The narrator reforms the story as the movie follows, creating a strange disassociation with the characters from the start of the movie.  I was a bit concerned that the entire movie would be presented this way, which could possibly make it difficult to empathize with the characters themselves, but soon after the first few scenes of the movie, a more static kind of storytelling emerges.

Philip’s manuscript is instantly published, but he ends up struggling with the notoriety and an obsessive relationship with his girlfriend Kira before suffering a mental breakdown.  Interestingly Erik and friends travel to get Philip out of the psychiatric hospital before we see what actually happened to Philip.  this anachronistic technique is used at various parts of the film, and follows with the disjointed presentation at the beginning of Reprise.  Philip struggles to find the desire to ever right again, and he struggles with his feelings for Kira and his own suicidal tendencies.

Erik’s first manuscript is rejected, and we are told by the narrator that Erik is struggling with the idea that he is not talented enough to actually get published.  The story shows how both Philip and Erik, but especially Erik, view fellow Norwegian writer Sten Egil Dahl as their idol.  The two young writers even go so far as to semi-stalk the older recluse, before finally meeting the legend.  Erik finally sees his dream realized only to have his work trashed in the newspapers, thereby feeding his insecurities as an author.

Reprise is an interesting mix of storytelling and acting.  The acting is superb by this young cast, and the relationships are gritty and real.  The two authors have friends that are typical for twenty year-olds, who are funny and can be biting.  They struggle with the idea of girlfriends and music, and they basically are your average college age guys, who drink too much and view life as immature adults would.  The story itself is presented in a refreshing, if not somewhat maddening way, with the story changing right before your eyes.  While Reprise is not for everyone, it was a story that I really found myself sucked into, and I wanted to see what happens to these characters.  While I am positive my wife would state that the movie was incredibly slow, I found it entertaining and engaging.  I have to note that the movie itself was an official selection at both the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals, which is never a bad thing.  Miramax really  has a talent of bringing quirky, new movies to the mainstream.

Audio & Video: 7/10
I thought the video was well done.  There was nothing spectacular, and the way that the film was shot didn’t lend itself to super dramatic, high definition scenes, but overall the video was decent.  There is not a lot of color used in Reprise, and the stark feeling of Oslo is very reminiscent of other European cities (I felt like they were walking down streets in Amsterdam for half of the movie).  The video is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, and is overall very nice.

The audio was presented in 5.1 Surround Sound, but I honestly felt that it was almost exclusively front heavy.  There really was not much use for the surround speakers, outside of a very few music scenes.  It was not bad, but it felt sparse at times, and maybe a bit muddled in parts.  I do have to comment on something that I noticed throughout the film that was really refreshing, which was the use of silence.  Reprise had many scenes that were intensified by the use of no sound at all.  Rarely do you see moments in movies where the silence is presented in such a fashion.  It was both new and extremely gripping at the same time.  It was a technique that really worked, and I really noticed it.

Value: 6/10
Reprise is not a fit for everyone.  It is an intellectual story about two friends who want to be authors, but who have different ideas about how to achieve their goal.  It obviously is a European movie, and it is subtitled, which can infuriate some people.  It is a slow film in areas, and it focuses on the relationships of the characters, without much in the way of action.  That being said, it is a great story about people, and their interactions and problems.  The acting was excellent, which really made it seem as if this was a group of friends who were laying out their lives in front of the camera for us to view.  If you are okay with a slower paced euro film (think Once with less guitars) then you may well enjoy Reprise for the story and character development.  It is a new take on the coming of age film, with intellect and style that may not appeal to everyone, but will definitely hit home with some.  I can’t see people watching this over and over again, but it is definitely worth a look in my opinion.

Overall Score 7/10