Vibrant coming-of-ager “The Man Who Loved Yngve” offers a bittersweet look at a tumultuous time in a troubled teen’s life. Scripter Tore Renberg’s adaptation of his bestselling novel of the same name gets a lively translation to the bigscreen from debuting feature helmer Stian Kristiansen. Likely to jibe with Euro youth markets in arthouses and ancillary, pic ranked as the third most successful Norwegian film of 2008 and also nabbed domestic awards for film, director and editor.
Briefly framed by the contempo p.o.v. of protag Jarle Klepp (up-and-coming talent Rolf Kristian Larsen), this story of high school hijinks and the casual cruelty of youth unfolds circa 1989 in provincial Norway. Just as the Berlin Wall unexpectedly collapses, an unforeseen situation causes Jarle’s insular world to implode.
Jarle is 17 and something of an outsider; he and his mother (Trine Wiggen) live apart from his alcoholic father (Jorgen Langehelle). An ardent leftist and lover of cult rock, Jarle and best buddy Helge (Arthur Berning) are launching their own punk band with the support of Jarle’s pretty g.f., Katrine (Ida Elise Broch). When athletic, dreamy new boy Yngve (Ole Christoffer Ertvaag) arrives at their school, Jarle becomes surprisingly smitten.
Sidestepping any coming-out scenarios or true exploration of same-sex attraction, the script concentrates instead on how Jarle’s secret crush affects his relationship with Katrine, Helge and the band. Curiously, the louche depiction of a gay hairdresser (Kristoffer Joner) makes the pic seem slightly homophobic, as does a scene in which drunken Jarle publicly humiliates Yngve for his naive admiration despite his private feelings.
Thanks to Kristiansen’s confident direction and the convincing playing of the youthful cast, the film excels most in the realistic depiction of teens struggling to find their individual voices amid peer pressure and parental expectations.
The period setting and rebellious attitudes of Jarle and friends are aptly evoked by Mia Koch’s spot-on costumes, Trond Hoeines’ gorgeous widescreen lensing and well-chosen tunes from leading rock bands of the era, including Stone Roses, the Cure, REM, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Joy Division.
Led by Vidar Flataukan’s kinetic editing, the rest of the bright tech package is pro.
“Yngve”‘s domestic box office success makes it likely that Renberg’s other two Jarle Klepp novels, “The Orheim Company” and “Charlotte Isabel Hansen,” will also make it to the bigscreen.