As much as I would love to be able to give you my list of the ten best films from 2012, I can’t. Time did not allow me to see everything. And to be honest, I so now detest the act of going to see a movie at a cinema (unless it’s during a film festival, or at a true art house, neither of which exist in any way, shape, or form in New Haven, CT) that I won’t get to most of the best from 2012 until their dvds are released. (I did just watch an academy screener of ZERO DARK THIRTY. I thought it was very, very good. But would it make my top ten? Most likely not.)
So instead of a list, I thought I would make a pitch for one movie I’m pretty sure most people have never heard of. Sort of my Waxahatchee for the film world. And though there were a number of great documentaries released in 2012 (THE INVISIBLE WAR is mind-numbingly brilliant), the one film that brought me most joy was a 76 minute comedy from Norway: TURN ME ON, DAMMIT! from director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen.
TMOD is a coming of age story, but one like we’ve never seen before. It’s from a realistic female perspective. The film stars first-time actress Helene Bergsholm as fifteen-year-old Alma. She’s going through a phase we’ve seen a thousand teenaged boys suffer in film: she thinks about sex. All the time. She’s as horny as any male counterpoint we’ve ever seen. She fantasizes. She’s a regular caller on a sex hotline. And she’s even ready to act on her school crush. But when they sneak away together at a party, it turns out that he’s more interested in poking the side of her leg with his penis. And when she tells her friends about this strange occurrence, no one believes her. And thus she becomes known seemingly everywhere in her small town as “Dick Alma.”
Nothing I write here can prepare you for the charm of the performances, the innocent yet mischievous realism of the characters – all of the characters, the laugh-out-loud funny moments, or even the completely feel-good ending that will leave you grinning from ear-to-ear.
TMOD is full of beautifully awkward moments, sometimes crude, often times charming, that are probably more real than any parent would like to admit. Every scene, every line of dialog rings true, from Alma’s friendships with other girls in her class, to her usually disproving mother, to the claustrophobic small town feel, to the boy who likes her but can’t bring himself to admit it.
Director Jacobsen comes from the world of documentaries, and this is her first narrative feature. But her command of the genre (funny is hard) and her casting of Bergsholm are brilliant. Someone has already said this is the coming of age story Hollywood would never make, and that’s too bad. But for anyone who understands that girls can be just as horny as boys, give this remarkable film a chance. You’ll find the phrase “Dick Alma” forever a part of your film-loving lexicon.
P.S. We have new IndieGoGo campaigns going for both A DOG NAMED GUCCI and EVERY EVERYTHING, THE MUSIC, LIFE & TIMES OF GRANT HART…so if you missed out on pre-ordering the DVD or any of the other great rewards last time…now’s your chance.