Tribeca Film Festival 2011
By Don Simpson | May 2, 2011
Director: Jannicke Systad Jacobsen
Writers: Jannicke Systad Jacobsen, Olaug Nilssen
Starring: Helene Bergsholm, Matias Myren, Malin Bjørhovde, Beate Støfring, Henriette Steenstrup
Alma (Helene Bergsholm) is a 15-year-old virgin…well, except by her own hand; but what else is a teenage girl supposed to do when she is trapped in a secluded Norwegian town that has nothing to offer except empty roads, sheep, tractors and hay? Alma wants to get all hey, hey in the hayloft with Artur (Matias Myren); but until that time comes, Alma must rely on a friendly phone sex operator at “Wet and Wild Dreams” to get her rocks off. A relatively normal teenager with an overactive imagination that has been hijacked by hyperactive hormones, Alma daydreams incessantly about a variety of sexual encounters. Her fantasies begin to get so confused with reality that neither Alma nor the audience know which is which. It is important to note that despite the unquenchable itch in her crotch, Alma never reduces herself to trying to do the deed with just anyone; she is the master of her own domain and is perfectly content racking up her mother’s telephone bill with calls to “Wet and Wild Dreams”. That is, until her mother (Henriette Steenstrup) sees the bill…
One fantastical (?) encounter with Artur seems so real that it leaves Alma totally convinced that he actually “poked” her; but after she recounts the absurd-yet-innocent event to her friends, Alma becomes an instant freak, earning herself the nickname of “Dick-Alma” (a moniker that most 15-year-old girls would not aspire to possess). Even Alma’s friends, Ingrid (Beate Støfring) and Saralou (Malin Bjørhovde), stay clear of her. Trudging onward in an even more isolated haze of high school, Alma rides her misfit status like a roll of coins into a not-so-wild world of booze, hash and nicked porn mags.
Adapted from Olaug Nilssen’s novel of the same name, writer-director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen shows us how the repressive tendencies of small rural towns can really screw with the adolescent minds of its inhabitants. The kids of Turn Me On, Dammit feel locked up and oppressed (they hate their town so much that they flip off the town limit sign every time they pass by it) and hormonal tension is boiling inside them.
The cast is played primarily by teenage actors, lending Turn Me On, Dammit the aura of an authentically awkward adolescent world that is saturated with overwhelming sexuality. In Hollywood, these kids would have been total horn-dogs, talking raunchily about wanting to get into each other’s pants; but Jacobsen’s film is incredibly subtle, approaching teenage sexuality naturally rather than exaggeratedly. The high schoolers in Turn Me On, Dammit are way too shy and timid to discuss sex with each other, thus causing their brains to become overloaded with closeted thoughts and desires.
Another interesting aspect of Turn Me On, Dammit is the character of Saralou. She gives Jacobsen the opportunity to attack the use of capital punishment in the United States — specifically Texas. Saralou’s sole desire is to travel to Texas in order to protest the death penalty; in the meantime, she has become pen pals with several death row inmates in Texas, using the prisoners as sounding boards for all of her pent up adolescent frustrations.