“Turn Me On, Dammit” could be the Republicans’ worst nightmare: a movie about female sexuality that isn’t smarmy, sensational, exploitive – or judgmental.
Talk about subversive.
Indeed, this Norwegian film by Jannicke Systad Jacobsen is a total departure: the first teen coming-of-age film I can recall that uses a certain bittersweet amusement to deal calmly with the rampaging hormones of an adolescent girl.
Here’s a teen girl, Alma (Helene Bergsholm), who is horny and fantasizes endlessly about sex, masturbating enthusiastically – and who doesn’t suffer as a result. She isn’t raped, she isn’t killed, she doesn’t fall victim to unexpected pregnancy or any of its potential fall-out. Indeed, she learns a valuable and enriching life lesson and then goes on with her life, happier and more self-assured.
In other words, she’s Rick Santorum’s biggest fear: a sexually eager woman who isn’t punished for her urges.
Hollywood has told this story endlessly – but always about boys, almost never about girls (at least not without a tragic component). Think “Porky’s.” Think “American Pie.” Think any sex-drenched teen comedy of the past 30 years.
That’s what makes “Turn Me On, Dammit” such a breakthrough. It’s a charming, wistful tale of one girl trying to come to terms with impulses she feels are unique to her.
In the case of Alma, her outlet is a phone-sex hotline, where she’s enough of a regular that her favorite operator, Stig, calls back to make sure she’s OK when a call is cut off. In fact, she was caught short in the midst of masturbating to Stig’s dirty talk by her mother’s return home.
Alma, who is almost 16, lives with her single mom (Henriette Steenstrup) in the tiny town of Skoddeheimen, so remote that the locals have to ride a bus over the mountain to go grocery shopping. Alma and her pals routinely give the finger to the sign bearing the town’s name each time they pass it on the ride to civilization.
This review continues on my website.