When it comes to the angst and agony of youth, it's a small, small world as shown in the Norwegian film "Turn Me On, Dammit!" The film is this month's presentation by Fresno Filmworks.
Alma, played with rebelliousness and spunk by acting newcomer Helene Bergsholm, is a 15-year-old living in the small Norwegian town of Skoddeheimen. Combine the glaring lack of distractions her hometown has to offer and her exploding hormones and Alma's sexual awakening has become an embarrassment to her friends, family and herself.
When the boy she likes, Artur (Matias Myren), lies about an awkward encounter with Alma, she becomes an outcast. That leaves her even more time to fantasize and look for ways to relieve her tensions. Even her mother becomes frustrated with trying to deal with the sexually charged teen.
First-time feature director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen, who also wrote the script based on the novel by Olaug Nilssen, could have played this coming-of-age story for far more titillation. Instead, Jacobsen presents the confused heroine with sympathy and understanding that shows growing up is not necessarily about the big things but can often be complicated by the same simple confusions teens around the world face.
It works because Bergsholm brings a naive freshness to the performance. She doesn't play the role with the confidence that a more seasoned actor would show, and that's a good thing.
Although the film is in Norwegian with English subtitles, there's a universality to the story, from the hatred the teens have for living in a rural area to the power of high school cliques. It's the kind of film that will resonate with anyone who faced the emotional turmoil that comes with being a teen -- no matter what their nationality.
Also: Fresno Filmworks will show the Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe film "The Misfits" at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 10, at The Tower Theatre.
"Turn Me On, Dammit!," unrated but includes language, nudity, strong sexual content. Stars Helene Bergsholm, Matias Myren, Henriette Steenstrup. Directed by Jannicke Systad Jacobsen. Running time: 76 minutes. Screenings are 5:30 and 8 p.m. June 8 at The Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave. Grade: B
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter.