Female Filmmaker Friday: Få meg på, for faen! (Turn Me On, Dammit!), 2011 (dir. Jannicke Systad Jacobsen)

I remember when this film was first released in the U.S. It was when I worked at a few art house theaters in San Francisco while I was in grad school. I thought the trailer was charming, but somehow missed the film while it was in theaters. Last year I finally caught up with it thanks to the help of Videodrome here in Atlanta. It did not disappoint.

Based on a Norwegian novel by Olaug Nilssen, writer-director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen said she “related to it in a kind philosophical and artistic way” and loved how true to teenage life the story felt. It was filmed in a remote Norwegian town, featuring actual teenagers, most of whom needed acting lessons before the filming began. It played at the Tribeca Film Festival (where it won the screenplay award), Zürich Film Festival and Stockholm International Film Festival before going wide in Norway in 2011; a 2012 theatrical release in the United States followed.

The film stars newcomer Helene Bergsholm as Alma, a very, very horny 15-year-old girl who lives in a small Norwegian town. A good deal of the film involves her fantasies – mostly more romantic than sexual – as well as her penchant for masturbating. When she racks up a large phone bill calling a phone sex line she has to take an after school job to pay her mom back. I was really surprised how this storyline in the film played out. What could easily have been pretty gross, is played out with sweetness and sincerity.

Alma’s mom (played by Henriette Steenstrup) is struggling to deal with her teenager’s coming of age and sexual awakening, while also beginning a new relationship herself. There is angst here, but refreshingly it’s not the main angst of the film.

As the film begins we see Alma with her friends Sara (Malin Bjørhovde) and Ingrid (Beate Støfring), all three of whom are miserable for various reasons in their tiny town. Every time any character in the film passes by the sign saying they are entering the town, they flip it the bird. I feel this deeply.

I love how this film demonstrates the unique angst of being a teenager in an isolated, small town. As someone who grew up in a similarly insular, isolated, small town, I can tell you it is its own specific Hell. All you have is your friends and dreams of someday moving to the big city. When you have a falling out with your only friends, you feel this suffocating isolation all the more acutely. Which happens to poor Alma.

You see, Alma has a crush on a boy named Artur. There is a problem: he is a cool kid; she is most decidedly not. He features prominently in her fantasies. Although she spends a lot of time masturbating, her fantasies are mostly things like running through the forest, cuddling under the stars, etc. So as she gets ready to head to a teen dance, Alma imagines all the romantic things she wishes she could do with Artur. We’ve all been there. We all know this is not going to end well.

Matias Myren is so perfect as Artur. He is just charming enough to see why Alma would fall for him, but he’s also that perfect teenage boy jerk. The kind who is one way with the girl he likes, and someone completely different around his friends. Peer pressure is a bitch.

The main point of angst in this film, the reason Alma has a falling out with her friends, comes during the party. Alma and Artur share a smoke. There is chemistry. Things are going well. And then Artur pokes her leg with his dick and leaves. That’s it. Alma being the horndog that she is immediately finds a private place to masturbate and fantasize about Artur. When she gets back to the party, she tells her friends what happened, but they don’t believe her because he’s a cool kid. He would never do such a thing with Alma, surely. So they straight up ask him if it’s true. He, of course, lies and says Alma made the whole thing up. For the rest of the film Alma is teased by everyone (they call her Dick Alma) and is abandoned by her friends – and the guy! High school is rough.

The remainder of the film deals with the aftermath of the party, as well as Alma’s shenanigans at the grocery store where she works in order to pay her mother back for the phone sex bill. The film is a brisk 76 minutes without an ounce of wasted frames. I laughed consistently throughout and as it ended I found myself grinning the joy it brought me. How refreshing to have a teen sex comedy that is both horny and heartfelt, and never veers into gross out territory!

Bonus: there’s some delightful dog acting. It looks like this film is about to go out of print on DVD, so snag a copy before it does, or rent it from your local video rental store (if you still have one near you!)

About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on March 1, 2019, in Female Filmmaker Friday and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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