Turn Me On, Dammit! explores coming of age in the Norwegian boonies
Set in the Norwegian boonies, Jannicke Systad Jacobsen's first fiction feature (based on Olaug Nilssen's 2005 novel) introduces its fifteen-year-old protagonist, Alma (Helene Bergsholm), with her hand down her pants, furiously coming as she listens to a phone-sex operator. Yet the opening scene's promising boldness is soon undermined by cutaway shots of the family dog looking on puzzled at the frenzy of self-pleasure; like its title, Turn Me On, Dammit! is a jokey pseudo-provocation. Horny fantasist Alma becomes an outcast once she tells her friends that a crush "poked me with his dick" at a party. When not asking audience members to figure out what's in Alma's head and what isn't, Systad Jacobsen, working with a cast of mostly first-time actors, reveals her strengths with the more fully conceived supporting characters. Ingrid (Beate Støfring), responsible for making Alma a pariah, has a great moment singing "Oh, Happy Day" at choir practice; the mean girl's sister Sara (Malin Bjørhovde) writes letters to inmates on death row in Texas. More of a symbol of frustrated, slandered teenage lust than an actual person, Alma — so pale she's almost translucent — is devoid of these specificities. When she runs away to Oslo for a day, I wished that she could travel back in time to another Scandi capital: Stockholm, to join the fully realized adolescent-girl misfits of Lukas Moodysson's 1998 film Show Me Love.
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