I’ve found a way to keep my promise of doing some Scandinavian arthouse film and wax poetic yet again on a teen movie set in the 80s. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The Man Who Loved Yngve, or for those who speak Norwegian: Mannen Som Elsket Yngve.
A friend of mine who uses the local library as a video rental brought this one along for a movie night, and we all became obsessed with it (okay so me maybe slighty more than the others). The clothes, the music, the pangs of adolescence; everything about this movie felt so right. Let me introduce you to the main characters:The protagonist of the story who’s in for some good old adolescent identity crisis. Here he is at the start of the movie:He’s already got the headphones and the scarf, but his par of the course padded 80s jacket reveals he is not quite one of the cool kids yet. Enter Helge:
King of cool Helge takes Jarle under his black-clad wing and a bromance ensues. Of course, they start a band.
But the Jarle-Helge bromance quickly becomes a friendship/love triangle with the arrival of this foxy lady:
The perfect 80s alt girl:
For some reason she chooses to go out with Jarle rather than Helge. Despite the fact that I find Jarle about as attractive as a potato, I’ll admit they still make a cute couple.One of the things I love about this film/indie films in general is that teenagers are allowed to have something resembling real sex lives. Or in the words of the late great Roger Ebert (referring to the equally fantastic Y Tu Mamá También): “The movie is realistic about sex, which is to say, franker and healthier than the smutty evasions forced on American movies by the R rating. We feel a shock of recognition: This is what real people do and how they do it.” Awkward bra clip fumbling and all
All the sex with Katrine doesn’t get in the way of the band or Jarle’s friendship with Helge, the three of them actually become something of a trinity, sulking along the high school hallways together in their alt uniformsGiving dirty looks to airhead cheerleader types
In short, Jarle seems to have it all together. Enter Yngve (whom you may have been wondering about since reading the title of this post)
Remember when I said I found Jarle as attractive as a potato? Well consider Yngve a parsnip, or a kohlrabi, or whatever plant is a couple of notches below potato. He arrives as the new kid in school and for some reason, Jarle is immediately drawn to him. Which, Jarle I think it’s great you’re exploring your bicuriosity, but have you looked around you recently? Your best friend is kind of hot! Look:
In case that wasn’t obvious enough, here they are next to each other, with Helge sporting the look of a young Julian Casablancas and Yngve that of your grandpa circa 1972:
So anyway, Jarle finds himself in a bit of a pickle with him fancying Yngve because a) he has a girlfriend whom he genuinely loves and b) he just found himself this cool new identity and Yngve is about as uncool as you can get. He plays tennis and listens to Duran Duran, for starters. But Jarle just can’t help himself and as he starts to fall for Yngve, things start to unravel fast.
I’m not going to include any spoilers so this is as far as I’ll go storywise. If you are into teen movies that are not afraid to deal with questions of identity and sexuality in an honest, humorous and heartfelt way, I cannot urge you enough to go and see this. To get you in the mood of the film, here’s a playlist (some of the songs are also used in the movie):
To conclude, a couple more pictures of the awesome 80s alt style this movie features:
The final shout-out goes to the beautiful Norwegian landscape:
Ha det bra!