Saturday, March 31, 2012

Film Review: Turn Me On, Dammit!

When a film opens with a fifteen year old girl lying on the kitchen floor, a phone by her ear with the voice of a man from what appears to be a phone sex line emanating from it in cheesy yet sensual Norwegian, her jeans bunched up around her knees and her hand down her panties, her face writhing in carnal pleasure, one immediately knows that they have either stumbled across a particularly well-filmed piece of Scandinavian child porn or what passes for a teen sex comedy and/or coming of age film in Norway.  Since the film never really delves any deeper into the sexual fantasies of its horny teenaged protagonist than it does in this opening scene - for all of its blatant sexuality, the film is surprisingly quite innocent - the safe bet would be the latter.   

With equal parts blunt force frankness and wide-eyed naivety, this debut feature from Jannicke Systad Jacobsen, originally titled Turn Me On Goddammit! during it's festival circuit run, but now released without the apparently (and quite silly) upsetting blasphemy, is a sheer delight of strangely immaculate and kewpie-doll-esque sexual fantasy and imagined debauchery and desired deflowerment - all rolled into the most vestal of cinematic sacraments.   Much of this wonderment is accomplished through a smartly conceived script (winner of Tribeca's Best Screenplay award) and seemingly natural and deft direction, both courtesy of Ms. Jacobsen, but at the heart of the film is the performance of Helene Bergsholm as fifteen year old Alma.  Just seventeen when she accepted the role, the stunning Bergsholm has a natural beauty that mirror images her natural acting ability, and it is this natural charm, making it seem as if she is not really acting at all (which may actually be the case considering her being unto inexperienced), that makes this quaint film work as well as it does.

As far as story goes, Turn Me On Dammit! is a film about Alma, the aforementioned horny teenager, who lives in a small, dead end town somewhere in the south of Norway.  It is a place, like any typical small town in America, where the young desire to escape and the old wonder why they never did.  A place that Alma and her friends give the finger to as they bus past the welcome to town sign.  But besides being a frustrated teenager in a slow, uneventful world, Alma is also a sexually frustrated teenager in a world where every male figure is fodder for her wanton sexual fantasies.  Her constant masturbation and her first-name basis relationship with a phone sex operator has her mother in a constant state of agitation ("I can hear her!") and her sexual fantasy world gets her in trouble when she claims the boy she likes best, "poked" her with his penis, and no one believes her.  Ostracized from school and family, Alma eventually runs away, but this is not the answer.  It is quite strange to see a film where it is the girl who is obsessed with sex instead of the boy, but this obvious but oft-unmentioned phenomenon, makes this quirky little teen sex comedy all the more real - and all the more intriguing.  


Sam Fragoso said...

I've heard nothing but good, though "odd" things about the film.

Where did you find it?

Kevyn Knox said...

I got a press screener a few months back. Just did not want to publish a review until its release.