Hormones over Norway in 'Turn Me On'

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 17, 2012 - 2:48 PM

Small-town boredom meets libidinal angst, driving a teenaged girl to distraction in a smarter-than-usual teen sex farce.

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"Turn Me On, Dammit"

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Here's a clever, refreshingly real twist on the teenage sex farce. Alma, 15, is bored out of her mind in Skoddeheimen, a Norwegian Podunk introduced through funny-mundane shots of hay bales and tractors. The main employer is a turnip factory and the leisure-time highlight is the convenience store. With its tiny dating pool and lack of diversions, it's the sort of place to drive a pretty, dateless girl to distraction.

As the title promises, the film is a sexually frank, comically vulgar, but not exploitative look at Alma's erotic life. Her libido is humming -- screaming -- for release, and you know what they say about idle hands. We meet Alma splayed out on her kitchen floor, phone receiver cradled against her ear as she embarks on ... let's call it a journey of self-exploration. Alma is quite a regular customer for the phone-sex line -- her mother is stopped dead in her tracks by the $1,000 service bill. Alma calls so often that the guy on the other end has turned into a kind of helpful uncle, giving her solid personal advice as well as carnal murmurings.

Alma's quirky erotic fantasy life is rendered in dream sequences so vivid that we're not positive whether her embarrassing show-and-tell episode with dreamboat classmate Artur is real. When she shyly boasts about it to her frenemy Ingrid, word spreads through the little town like wildfire and soon even tots taunt her with naughty sing-song nicknames. Her path takes her from class outcast to a groovy college students' flat in Oslo and back to Skoddeheimen and true love.

The script, adapted by director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen from a novel by Olaug Nilssen, is populated with unusually well worked-out characters for a light teen comedy. First-time actress Helene Bergsholm is endearingly awkward and natural as the sexually precocious heroine. As her sardonic sidekick Sara, who writes pedantic pen-pal letters to U.S. death row inmates and pursues a daft romance with the class stoner, newcomer Malin Bjorhovde elevates sullen eye-rolling to high art. The film's sitcom-worthy characters exist alongside observational touches that make the situation feel authentic. "Turn Me On, Dammit!" is a sweet, salty pastry much tastier than "American Pie."

  • TURN ME ON, DAMMIT!

    ★★★ out of four stars

    Unrated by the MPAA; sex and nudity involving teens, profanity, drug use. In subtitled Norwegian.

    RottenTomatoes.com: read reviews

    Showtimes: view listings

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