Winter may have the country in an icy grip, but Norway is hot. The Nordic country is sending three films to Park City, the most prominent of which is “Reprise,” helmer Joachim Trier’s ambitious, relentlessly inventive debut feature.
A tale of literary rivalry, romantic agonies and madness that also tracks how young people make the transition from punk rock to parenting, “Reprise” already has picked up major gongs at several festivals, but has yet to secure a North American distributor.
Although its themes are universal, the storytelling is hardly conventional. A robust mix of montages, flashbacks, flash-forwards and still shots give the film a shiny musicvid feel, in the service of a story with real depth and passion.
“I believe dramaturgy can be experimental without alienating the audience,” explains the 32-year-old Norwegian-Danish helmer, who was raised in a cinematic family (his grandfather and parents are all in the biz).
As a teenager, he twice won top skateboarding prizes in Norway. He started off making skateboarding vids, and that feel for hipster culture shines through in “Reprise,” where all the characters sport slick threads and sharp haircuts.
After attending the European Film College in Copenhagen, Trier studied in Blighty at the National Film & Television School. There, tutors such as Stephen Frears helped Trier hone his skills working with thesps, an area he felt he particularly needed to work on. He still remembers Frears advising him, “Casting is 80% of what you do.”
On his graduation short, “Procter,” Trier worked with what’s become a core collaborative team, not unlike members of a band, as he describes it. The key talents are lenser Jakob Ihre, editor Olivier Bugge Coutte and co-screenwriter Eskil Vogt. Trier has written scripts with Vogt since they “both had stupid jobs in Norwegian TV,” as Vogt puts it.
After “Reprise,” the same lot probably will collaborate again — as they often do on advertising gigs — for Trier and Vogt’s next feature script, an English-language project they’re hesitant to describe.
“Some people approach scriptwriting by working inside out, but we work from outside in, taking lots of ideas and trying to build a story around them,” says Vogt, who is separately working on his own helming debut. “The challenge was to make a coherent film with too many of the ideas we started out with, instead of too few.”
Provenance: Born in Copenhagen, but has spent most of his life in Norway
Inspired by: Films by Francois Truffaut and Alain Resnais, Nicolas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now,” Barry Levinson’s “Diner”
Reps: Elinor Burns, Casarotto Ramsay & Associates (U.K.)