Alma, the 15-year-old heroine of the Nordic import “Turn Me On, Dammit!,” is introduced pleasuring herself on the floor of her kitchen to the chatter of a phone sex operator. Instead of setting up a single-minded comedy about teenage desire, however, this gently amusing film from writer-director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen delicately renders more than a few shades of a turbulent female adolescence.
Soft-eyed, hangdog Alma (a wonderful Helene Bergsholm) is racked with horny/romantic fantasies and hates the backwater mountain village where she lives. But what’s most damaging to her embittered, hormonal psyche is the social exile she experiences when no one believes her story about what happened with the cute choirboy (Matias Myren) outside the dance one night.
Dotted with winning miniature portraits of Alma’s sullen friend (Malin Bjørhovde), a nascent political activist, and Alma’s mother (Henriette Steenstrup), hopelessly confused about her daughter’s phone proclivities, “Turn Me On” manages to feel sleepy in tone yet acute about character, and sexually frank but never prurient.
Most importantly, perhaps, the movie treats a girl’s burgeoning sexuality as neither epic nor problematic, or mutually exclusive of feelings of love, but rather simply, refreshingly, as one part of maturing.
“Turn Me On, Dammit!” No MPAA rating; in Norwegian with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 16 minutes. At Laemmle’s Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica; Laemmle’s Noho 7, North Hollywood; Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, Pasadena.