This week in movies you missed: Alma is young, Norwegian and horny. No, this isn’t a porno.
What You Missed
Alma (Helene Bergsholm), age 15, lives in the desolate town of Skoddeheimen, a place anyone who grew up in rural Vermont will instantly recognize as death to all teenagers’ spirits. She opens the film by noting local landmarks: “Road. Road with tractor. Stupid sheep.”
And, yes, Alma is horny. So horny she calls a phone-sex line, fantasizes incessantly and masturbates in inappropriate places. Unfortunately, the guys around her aren’t as sexually savvy as her phone friend. At a party, classmate Artur (Matias Myren) shows he’s smitten with her by whipping out his hard-on and poking it at her thigh. When she tells her friends about this smooth move, they doubt her story, and in short order she has become “Pikk-Alma” (“Dick-Alma”), the school pariah.
Ah, high school. Don’t you miss it?
Why You Missed It
You may have caught Turn Me On, Dammit! when it played briefly at the Savoy Theater in Montpelier. The Savoy has been doing some bold programming in its basement, using a digital distribution service — but you need to act fast, because few films run longer than a week. Here’s where to find the schedule.
Should You Keep Missing It?
As indie films about coming of age go, Turn Me On, Dammit! is fine, but nothing that special. Working from a novel, director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen got excellent performances from nonprofessional teen actors (including her lead), and she gives the film a pleasant look, with Norwegian landscapes in muted grays and blues contrasting with the kicky pastels worn by Alma and her friends.
The short film (just 76 minutes) feels a bit aimless as it wanders from Alma’s perspective to that of her friend Sara (Malin Bjørhovde), who’s obsessed with social justice instead of sex. (She dreams of moving to Texas to fight the death penalty.) And Alma’s mom (Henriette Steenstrup) remains a sketchy character. But the girls’ rapport is realistic, and random comic bits pop up throughout the movie. It’s a fun watch, if not the most compelling one.
But none of that is why Turn Me On, Dammit! got festival play and minor U.S. distribution. The reason is shock value. Awkward teen boys whose lust inspires humiliating mishaps are a staple of Hollywood comedies. But teen girls? They get Fun Size. They get Bella Swan tugging off Edward Cullen’s shirt while he begs her not to tarnish his century-old purity. Admittedly, Bella is pretty insistent, but can you imagine a scene where she deals with her frustration solo? Only in fanfiction.
So, yeah. As long as people (including teens themselves) find teen female sexuality embarrassing, prefer to see it sublimated into romance, and assume any cruder depiction of it will appeal mainly to perverts, Turn Me On, Dammit! will be a daring film. For the record, it contains flashes of nudity but is not explicit or (in my view) exploitive. But it probably couldn’t get an R rating.
Verdict: Now I’m imagining a mash-up of this and Twilight. That will give me something to think about when I have to sit through Breaking Dawn: Part 2: Raising Your Insta-Grow Vampire Child.
More New DVDs
Americano (French guy finds out his deceased mom was sleeping with Salma Hayek. What?)
The Ballad of Genesis & Lady Jaye (Documentary about the art- and love-driven physical transformation of performance artist Genesis P-Orridge.)
Bindlestiffs (Male teen virgins on the loose in the big city!)
The Campaign (Election comedy)
I’m Carolyn Parker (Jonathan Demme portrays an activist in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward.)
Payback (Doc based on Margaret Atwood’s nonfiction book about debt)
Polisse (Gritty French procedural drama)
Each week in "Movies You Missed," I review a brand-new DVD release picked for me by Seth Jarvis, buyer for Burlington's Waterfront Video, where you can obtain these fine films. (In central Vermont, try Downstairs Video.)