By Caitlyn Collins | April 26, 2012
Director: Jannicke Systad Jacobsen
Writers: Janncike Systad Jacobsen, Olaug Nilssen (novel)
Starring: Helene Bergsholm, Matias Myren, Henriette Steenstrup, Malin Bjørhovde, Beate Støfring
When it comes to the topic of sex and teenagers, teenage girls seem to be left completely out of the conversation; unless, of course, they are the object of someone’s desire, usually horny teenage males. Female teenagers range from voluptuous and sultry to standoffish and bitchy. There rarely seems to be a persona in between or even completely different from either of these options. And while it’s perfectly fine for young men to discuss a whole range of sexual topics — sex, masturbation, objects of their desire — young women never seem to talk about them on screen. But why is that? Teenagers are full of raging hormones, period. Finally, a director has come along to portray teenage women as they really are…horny. Of course, it comes as no surprise that Jannicke Systad Jacobsen, director of Turn Me On, Dammit!, is a lady.
Turn Me On, Dammit! is a film about sexual frustration, more so than sex; but that doesn’t stop Jacobsen from shying away from anything else sexual — boobs, a penis and masturbation. The film opens with 15-year-old Alma (Helene Bergsholm) lying on the kitchen floor listening to a telephone sex operator while eagerly alleviating her sexual frustration. The conversation, if you can call it that, abruptly ends when Alma’s mother (Henriette Steenstrup) comes home. Alma is quickly able to pull up and button her pants without her mother suspecting a thing. Shortly after, Alma takes a walk with her dog and runs into Artur (Matias Myren) the person of her desires and affections. Throughout the film, such encounters with Artur (and really just about everyone) trigger sexual daydreams. At times, it is difficult to tell when she is dreaming; some scenes are clearly distinguished with a few frames of black and white while others are not. As a result, the dream sequences are often more confusing than they should be, but they still manage to get the point across nevertheless.
Alma is friends with Sara (Malin Bjørhovde) and her sister Ingrid (Beate Støfring) who are complete polar opposites. Sara is a rare Norwegian brunette, wears heavy eyeliner, and has aspirations to move to Texas to end capital punishment. Ingrid is in the choir; she is blonde, voluptuous, and used to getting her way with her pulchritude. These stereotypes are ubiquitous in film, as I’ve already mentioned. While all three girls talk about boys, Alma does not confide in the sisters about her sexual appetite. Alma makes the tragic mistake of revealing to Sara and Ingrid an encounter she had with Artur at a party. Rather than side with her, Ingrid goes out of her way to shun Alma giving her the nickname “Dick-Alma”.
Her home life isn’t much better than her time at school once her mother discovers Alma has been calling a sex hotline. Her mother is convinced something is wrong with Alma and tells her she must get a job to help pay for the phone bill. The job isn’t any better though. Living in a small town does not lend itself to heavy food traffic at the super market. It does, however, give Alma time to “ride a roll of coins” and browse through porn magazines. Ultimately, Alma just wants to be a normal teenager. Stig (Per Kjerstad), Alma’s regular telephone companion, convinces her to tell Artur how she really feels about him. Here the film becomes a bit formulaic as Alma and Artur try to resolve their feeling for one another, but it’s still endearing nevertheless.
Turn Me On, Dammit! has the look of many Norwegian films I’ve seen — slightly dreary with muted colors. Yet the story is fresh and to the point at a mere 76 minutes. It’s fun, funny, and not the typical romantic comedy. Bergsholm delivers a great performance as Alma, able to capture her pleasure, pain, and general teenage angst. Jacobsen’s film is one many young women can relate to on some level because guess what? Girls are horny too!
(Also check on Don Simpson’s 8 out of 10 review of Turn Me On, Dammit! from Tribeca 2011.)