At the beginning of this year, I really enjoyed Joachim Trier's austere horror-adjacent coming-of-age movie Thelma, the first work I had seen from the acclaimed Norwegian director. Last month, as part of a movie exchange, the participant who drew my name decided that I needed to see Trier's feature debut, Reprise.
While Reprise didn't impact me as strongly as did Thelma, it's thematically ambitious with strong indications of Trier's confident and personal style. Trier uses the story of two best friends and aspiring young writers (Anders Danielsen Lie and Espen Klouman Høiner) to examine ideas about the narratives people write for their futures and how, when fate deals unexpected obstacles, they must either face the daunting uncertainty of unplanned options or try to rewrite their lives with the hope of manipulating them toward a desired direction.
Although both Lie and Høiner are appealing and capable performers, these two characters are a bit too bland to sustain a feature film. Viktoria Winge adds spark as Lie's patient but wary love interest — it's the scenes between these two that carry the most potent emotional charge — but it's Trier's energetic, clever and witty directing that is the main attraction in Reprise, and while it doesn't completely congeal in this first major outing, it's a pleasure to see how far along he was this early in his career.