Live From Norway

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The arrival of director Joachim Trier's stunning debut feature Reprise may be the best thing to hit North American shores from Norway since Turbonegro's Apocalypse Dudes. With the film's Stateside release in mid-May also came the announcement that the director had signed with RSA for commercial representation in the U.S. and U.K. Trier has made many short films and commercials in his native Norway, but Reprise has garnered him international acclaim since its original release in 2006. The film follows the life and friendship of two young writers as they shoot for literary greatness. The New York Times called it "a blast of unadulterated movie pleasure," and Slate dubbed it "as crisp and cool as a swig of champagne." And it's not too difficult to find hints of the same thoughtful, often surreal approach to visual narrative used in Reprise throughout Trier's commercial reel, particularly in two PSAs—one about responsible drinking for IQ called "Life" and another for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, about the dangers of dozing at the wheel. Both frame people doing everyday things in a candid and artful way, deliberately letting certain shots linger, forcing the viewer to look closer at what's happening on screen.

The director says the timing of his feature film's release and his foray into American commercials is purely coincidental. "I've had some offers from commercial companies in America before, but when (RSA) came around I knew it was a company I'd love to be with," he says. RSA apparently reached out to Trier after Ridley Scott had seen Reprise. "I think it's wonderful to be with a company that works with a lot of feature filmmakers and respects the process of trying to do both commercials and films. I think going between the two can be very productive, with both feeding each other in a good way."

In terms of directorial style, Trier, who sites everything from French New Wave film to Black Flag as creative influences, says he generally aims to break down the divide of character versus camera. This goal is all but accomplished in Reprise's non-linear storytelling that doesn't skimp on character development. "People talk about directors in terms of being either good with the camera or just good with performance and character," he says. "But an ideal for me is to combine the two and try to do something that's humanly interesting—through performance and character and faces—but also do something visual or conceptual with that. I'm trying to break the barrier between thought and emotion, to try and identify something yet make it stylistically interesting."

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