TURN ME ON, DAMMIT! – The Review
TURN ME ON DAMMIT! opens with the film’s 15-year old protagonist lying on the floor listening to phone sex and masturbating while the family dog looks on in puzzlement and Mom is about to walk through the front door. It may seem like a scene out of PORKYS or AMERICAN PIE, and while there’s been a whole genre of movies dedicated to the healthy sexual interests of the horny teenage boy, this new Norwegian film shows sex-crazed hormonal development and carnal fantasies from a young girl’s perspective.
Alma (Helene Bergsholm) is a teen trapped in Skoddenheim, a boring rural burg where everything, according to her opening voice-over, is “stupid” and she and her friends give its welcoming highway sign the finger every time they pass on their school bus. She’s lonely and horny for a hunky classmate Artur (Matias Myren), who visits her in her many sexual fantasies, filmed as if they are really happening until she’s snapped back to reality. When Artur makes his move toward her outdoors at a community dance, poking her with his erect penis, she runs inside to describe the encounter to her two best friends Saralou (Malin Bjrhoude) and Ingrid (Beate Stfring). They don’t believe her story, and Artur of course denies it, so she becomes ostracized by the whole school, earning the nickname “Dick Alma” and losing all her friends. Meanwhile Alma’s increasingly embarrassed single mother (Henriette Steenstrup) doesn’t know how to deal with this daughter whose run up thousands of dollars in sex phone bills. She’s not sure whether to be a friend or a mom, which is a thin, blurry line most mothers tread every day.
TURN ME ON DAMMIT! is an unusual coming-of-age comedy with some low-key deadpan humor enriched by a sweet approach to the peculiar complexities of teen girlhood. It’s a slight film, running just 75 minutes, but it’s mature and thoughtful and gets right the issues that it does tackle. The film is frank, if not shocking in its depiction of budding sexuality to the point of seeming a bit pervy. Miss Bergsholm gives a stellar performance as a girl attempting to measure her self-worth up against her peers. Armed with sex appeal, good looks, a foul mouth, and a wealth of sincerity, this actress (who was 18 when the film was made) pulls off this tricky role with genuine charm and skill. Writer/Director Jannicke Systad seems to be saying if teenage boys can be shown in films exhibiting healthy sexual interests, then why isn’t the same attitude applied to girls? TURN ME ON DAMMIT! is a foreign art film with limited appeal but considering the teen sex comedy is dominated by movies in which the girl is simply the object of sexual desire, it’s something different and worth a look.
3 1/2 of 5 Stars
TURN ME ON DAMMIT! Opens in St. Louis today at Landmark’s Tivoli Theater