Monday, 14 May 2012

TURN ME ON GODDAMMIT - Review By Greg Klymkiw - This terrific, stylish and intelligent Norwegian teen sex comedy from a female perspective is a must-see for all and signals the appearance of a vital, new filmmaker.

Turn Me On, Goddammit! (2011) Jannicke Systad Jacobsen

Starring: Helene Bergsholm, Matias Myren, Henriette Steenstrup, Malin Bjørhovde, Beate Støfring, Jon Bleiklie Devik


Review By Greg Klymkiw

She's 15-years-old and horny. So, what's a girl to do? She calls a phone sex service and masturbates on the kitchen floor while her perplexed dog watches and whimpers. He's 15-years-old and has a crush on a pretty girl. So, what's a boy to do? He approaches the girl stealthily outside a dance at the local community centre, opens his fly, whips out his schwance and pokes her with it.

Ah, young love in Skoddeheimen, Norway.

Alma (Bergsholm) is overflowing with teenage love hormones. The results, at least for her, are not pretty, but for those who make the effort to see this terrific little movie, the results yield a laugh-out-loud funny and at times, delicately moving experience. Based upon Olaug Nilssen's novel, Writer-director Jacobsen delivers a lovely portrait of young teenage women in a cloistered, repressed rural environment where anyone with any imagination and/or intelligence wants to escape at the earliest opportunity.

The movie has a lovely low-key deadpan quality that allows it to burst with the stuff of life and make the laughs so much more resonant than in typical American (and Male-centric) sex comedies. The picture's controlled personal style signals the arrival of a brilliant new filmmaking talent and gives us a great female character in a world mostly bereft of them. Alma is, quite simply, a brand new motion picture icon as emblematic as any of the silver screen's great characters - Scarlett O'Hara, Benjamin Braddock and yes, even the immortal Stifler.

When Alma reveals to her best friend Sara (Bjørhovde) and Sara's vain, mean-spirited sister Ingrid (Støfring) that Artur (Myren) has poked her with his penis, she quickly becomes a pariah in the small town. Ingrid carries a torch for Artur and as the Queen-Teen-Bee of Skoddenheimen begins to jealously and nastily spread rumours about Alma, declaring her persona non grata, poor Alma finds herself in social jeopardy. Ingrid even orders, in her catty bullying fashion, that sibling Sara is not allowed to fraternize with Alma.

Our heroine is shunned by all and earns the oft-repeated monicker "Dikk-Alma". Even the annoying brats who seem to perpetually bounce on a front yard trampoline which Alma passes everyday on her way home chant tauntingly: "Dikk-Alma-Dikk-Alma-Dikk-Alma-Dikk-Alma-Dikk-Alma".

Her sex fantasies run totally amuck. Not only does she concoct imaginary lovemaking with dreamboat Artur, but conjures up an early morning visit from Ingrid who demands, Dominatrix-like, that Alma squeeze her "fat tits" and go down on her.

When Alma's Mother (Steenstrup) makes the shocking discovery that her child has racked-up a whopping phone sex bill she orders her to get a part-time job to pay it off. She takes a clerk position at the local grocery store run by Sebjørn (Devik), Sara and Ingrid's Dad. Alma's sex fantasies now include her nebbish boss driven to predatory Casanova-like distraction by her sex-starved presence.

When Sebjørn discovers that Alma has been stealing porn magazines from his store, he informs Alma's Mom of this strange employee theft. This definitely causes a rift in that sacred of all relationships, that of Mother and Daughter, but their special emotional bond takes an even-deeper plunge into the chasm that opens up when Alma stops hiding her need for sex and defiantly indulges in obsessive (and very loud) vocal masturbation sessions behind the locked door of her bedroom.

It's kind of like a gender-bended Portnoy's Complaint (minus the Mounds-wrapper spunk receptacle) and we're even blessed with Alma sniffing her fingers to make sure the stench of masturbatory activities will not prove too obvious when she goes out in public.

Turn Me On, Goddammit! is one of the most delightful and original teen comedies ever made. It's not only great entertainment, but I also urge parents to take their own kids to see the movie. On a recent long car ride up to the cottage, my 11-year-old daughter was, as is her wont, sitting in the backseat with a portable DVD player and headphones - helping herself to whatever movies were in my briefcase. Unbeknownst to me she watched a preview screener of this very movie. When it was over, she announced: "Wow! What a great movie!"

"Oh?" I queried, "What movie was that, sweetie?"

"Turn Me On, Goddammit!" she replied.

I was briefly mortified, but as she discussed the movie with me, the shock dissipated and happily transformed to delight that good cinema knows no boundaries. The movie spoke to her in terms of relationships with her own girlfriends, the general attitudes at school towards boys and bullying and very touchingly, how the movie perfectly captured her own horrendous experience from when she went to school while living in a small town. I realized just how important this movie might be for pre-teen and teen girls who are inundated with the juvenile antics of boys that are thrust down their throats ad nauseam by the Hollywood hit machine.

As well, I was even more - as a parent - relieved that she pointed out how drugs and alcohol played a role in Alma's trials and tribulations. The movie is NOT moralistic on this point, but just simply realistic and matter-of-fact. Proof positive that reality, not head-hammering is what can allow any audience member, regardless of age, to view what's onscreen and make their own minds up about what they see.

Don't miss this one! It's a winner all the way!

"Turn Me On, Goddammit! is currently in release via Mongrel Media. In Toronto it is playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. For Tickets and Info, visit the TIFF website HERE