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Turn Me On, Dammit!

From left: Malin Bjorhovde, Helene Bergsholm and Beate Stofring in "Turn Me On, Dammit!" New Yorker Films photo

Alma (Helene Bergsholm) is bored, frustrated and dead set on getting out of the Norwegian town in which she lives with her disapproving mom (Henriette Steenstrup). Like discontented teenagers everywhere, Alma seeks distraction, and finds it in phone sex. But she'd really like to connect with a boy.

Prime candidate: Artur (Matias Myren), who has no problem attracting female attention. He also isn’t shy about expressing himself, taking advantage of an opportunity to make a bold pass at Alma. She's intrigued — then disappointed when he denies doing anything. When Alma tells her friends about the incident, she's branded a pariah.

Alma never imagined that life could be even more unbearable. But in a way, Artur's lie is the best thing that ever happened to her. Now, she has something to focus on: getting him to tell the truth. After that, who knows?

Based on a novel by Olaug Nilssen, "Turn Me On, Dammit!" is an engaging coming-of-age comedy that gets to the essence of adolescent sexuality with a deadpan style that brings to mind the films of Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismaki. Writer-director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen brings a sensitivity to the material that confidently steers it away from "American Pie" territory. Instead, she thoroughly nails the ennui of smalltown life — the sense that nothing new or interesting could possibly happen. And she elicits a terrific, star-making performance from Bergsholm.

Alma is at once a charmer and a contrarian, and Bergsholm achieves that balance with seeming effortlessness. At times, she’s more than a bit reminiscent of the young Jodie Foster.

"Turn Me On, Dammit!" might easily attract the wrong crowd while turning off the right one. It doesn’t help that the title might suggest an experience that the story doesn't deliver. True, the film deals with sex. But at heart, it's really about romance.

"Turn Me On, Dammit!"

Three stars out of four • Rating Not rated • Run time 1:16 • Language In Norwegian with English subtitles