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"Turn Me On, Dammit": Sexual Awakening Will Put You to Sleep 

Wednesday, Jun 13 2012
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Set in the Norwegian boonies, Jannicke Systad Jacobsen's first fiction feature (based on Olaug Nilssen's 2005 novel) introduces its 15-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 Stofring), responsible for making Alma a pariah, has a great moment singing "Oh, Happy Day" at choir practice; the mean girl's sister Sara (Malin Bjorhovde) 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 Show Me Love.

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Melissa Anderson

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