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Jefferson Root Written by Jefferson Root
Jun. 21, 2012 | 11:39 PM

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Winner of the Best Screenplay award at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, Norwegian director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen’s TURN ME ON, DAMMIT is a wonderful slice of life that deserves to find an American audience.  While we’ve been treated to countless films over the years about the sexual urges of teen males, its rare that a movie offers up an insightful look at teen sexuality from a female point of view.  In the U.S, it’s practically unheard of. This is not to say that American films aren’t happy to cash in on adolescent fantasies (TWILIGHT, anyone?), just that there are very few who are willing to really explore what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl.

Before we turn to the finer points of TURN ME ON, a disclaimer is in order.  While Jacobsen’s film is certainly frank about sex, this is not the kind of thing that’s going to find heavy rotation on Cinemax after midnight.  For one thing, it’s got subtitles. But Jacobsen and her talented young cast are trying to get to a larger point here.  For all of their gossiping and obsessing about sex, these teens are just starting to figure out what it is, and how it fits into the social fabric of their lives.

Based on a novel by Olaug Nilssen, the set up of TURN ME ON, DAMMIT is simple.  15 year old Alma (Helene Bergsholm) has hormones raging out of control, and an active fantasy life.  Her classmate Artur (Matias Myren) has the starring role in most of them.  One night at a party, Artur pulls a move that’s pretty dumb even by teenage boy standards.  Leaving something to the imagination, let’s just say it was a far cry from Alma’s visions of running through forests en route to post coital cigarettes.  In order to score points off her friend Ingrid, who also fancies Artur, she tells everyone what he just did.  Artur refuses to admit it, and Alma’s suddenly branded the school slut. 

TURN ME ON, DAMMIT is honest, brave and often hilarious.  Bergsholm easily carries the film on her shoulders, with nice supporting turns from Henriette Steenstrup as her long suffering mother and Malin Bjorhovde as her aspiring activist pal, Saralou. Jacobsen clearly empathizes with these characters predicaments, but she also keeps the mood light, as when Alma is comforted by a handsome young college student who turns the nasty nickname she’s earned at school into an empowering folk song.  In the end, Alma’s predicament is not as dire as it seems, and teenage life and lust in Norway soldiers on.

TURN ME ON, DAMMIT opens Friday, June 29th at the Laemmle Monica 4-Plex in Santa Monica, the Laemmle NoHo 7 in North Hollywood, and the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena.

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