This film about two good friends, both aspiring novelists, is a Jules and Jim for the 21st Century – at least it hopes to be. It fails in that aspiration, but it’s a film that is bold and inventive and follows its own path. That is always to be commended. I quite liked it, though many may not.
The opening is very cool, as the two friends stand before a postal box and hopefully drop their manuscripts into the slot. Later we learn that one of the friends (Philip) manuscript is accepted and becomes a minor literary sensation. His friends (Erik) is rejected over and over. But it will be the last thing that Philip ever publishes, as he has a nervous breakdown and struggles with mental illness his entire life. He does have a devoted girlfriend though. Their relationship is off and on, but ultimately she devotes herself to taking care of Philip. Erik, a slow starter, achieves success, publishing one novel, then another then another. In the meantime his personal life lacks a committment, as he continually neglects the woman who he should be thankful to have as a soul mate.
Joachim Trier’s debut film is an accomplished effort, with several ideas about art, fiction, and the publishing industry. Readers, and those interested in the publishing game should find it worthwhile.