Fifteen-year-old Alma just might be the horniest person in Norway. She rings up exorbitant phone sex bills when her mom, a single parent, is out of the house. And she rides rolls of coins when she gets bored working the checkout at the local supermarket -- a job she had to take to help offset the costs of those phone sex bills.
She's stuck and sex-crazed in Skoddeheimen, a tiny town where she and her cynical, cigarette-smoking best friend Saralou flip the bird at every opportunity. Alma fantasizes about nearly everyone she knows, from her big-breasted choir-singing classmate Ingrid, to her dorky middle-aged boss at the market. But most of her frustrated sexual energy is directed at Artur, her handsome blue-eyed neighbor who plays guitar at the local youth group.
If Turn Me On, Dammit! sounds like typical teen raunch fare, you're not entirely wrong. But the film does have plenty of surprises in store.
Turn Me On, Dammit! won the award for Best Screenplay at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2011, and it's not difficult to see why. Though this film from director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen follows in the crazy, horny footsteps of other adolescent sex comedies like American Pie, the film is set apart by the fact that it focuses on the insanity of hormonal overload from the female perspective. And that's not the only unique thing about it. While it offers a lot of gentle laughs (do not expect fall-out-of-your-chair funny) and a number of truly mortifying moments, the writing and directing allow the audience to empathize with Alma, who seems genuinely bewildered by her enslavement to the sexual chemicals coursing through her veins, rather than just laugh at her.
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The film also does a nice job of illuminating the quick and cruel ostracism that can happen in high school, especially to sexually curious girls, and the strained dynamic between mothers and their daughters, especially when said daughter is at the ripe yet tender age of 15. Circumscribed village life and naive teenage idealism are also subtly woven into the film through both dialogue and cinematography.
Marking another upgrade from your typical teen raunch-fest, Jacobsen's film is beautifully shot, especially during one of Alma's fantasies in which she and Artur lie on their backs in the forest to behold a sky full of interlocking tree tops. And though a few scenes are initially a bit unsettling - we are, after all, watching blatantly sexual actions performed by underage characters -- viewers should be relieved to know that the performers are in fact 20 years old. No child exploitation necessary.
Turn Me On, Dammit! runs at the Coral Gables Art Cinema from May 25 to 31. There'll be a live Q&A with the director via Skype before the show on Saturday, May 26, and a "Hot Button Party" featuring a DJ and burlesque show before the 11:30 p.m. screening on Saturday, June 2. Tickets cost $11. Visit gablescinema.com or call 786-385-9689.