Telling stories about the struggle of being a young artist is irresistible for a young artist. Conveying the feeling of that struggle, though, is an elusive art. The young Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier masters it with bravura style in his dashing first feature, Reprise.
When we first meet them, Phillip (Anders Danielsen Lie) and Erik (Espen Klouman Hoiner) are twentysomething friends at a mailbox, each posting the manuscript of a first novel they hope will launch their brilliant careers. But it's Trier's narrative authority that's truly launched here (he directed, and he co-wrote the clear-eyed script with Eskil Vogt), as he spins forward to a what-if scenario about the fate of the two chums, then spools back again to tell what really happened. Quick success for one of them twists into a bout of madness; hard rejection shapes character for the other. Naturally, a beautiful girlfriend (Viktoria Winge) plays a role in all this, as the beautiful girlfriends of male artists do.
Reprise is kissed with the breath of French New Wave sensibility, sweet with verve and a love of forward movement. The mood of joy in the midst of youthful pain is enhanced by the freshness of the first-time lead actors, and by the sights of Paris, which plays as much of a role as Oslo in this lovely debut. A-