Fantastic Fest 2011: YOU SAID WHAT Review

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
Glenn has a problem. Arriving home early on his anniversary hoping to surprise his girlfriend with flowers he does exactly that. The problem is he also surprises the naked man whose nipples she has just covered with whipped cream. So now Glenn is sad.

Luckily Glenn has a trio of very good friends. Good film-loving friends who offer Glenn a couch to sleep on and a plan to get him back on his feet. Back in the saddle, as it were. They shall organize an audition for a film that does not exist and they shall invite only women, women who will be told Glenn is a movie director to push them down the path to admiration and love. The problem, of course, comes when Glenn actually meets a woman he likes in one of the auditions and - desperate - to see her again offers her a part in a movie which does not actually exist, thereby forcing Glenn and his friends to actually make a movie or be exposed. Cue a comedy of errors that eventually leads to Peter Stormare standing on the back of a homemade paper mâché dragon shrieking "I am the King of Darkness!"

If the opening of this film sounds familiar, that's because it should. Because You Said What is a film that very openly and explicitly lifts the premise of Takashi Miike's Audition and re-envisions it as a romantic comedy. It's an idea that could be disastrous in the wrong hands but brought to you by Patrik Syversen - the director of Norwegian slasher Manhunt - and the producing team behind Nazi zombie comedy Dead Snow, You Said What proves to be a charmer - a picture made by geeks for geeks that gets all the little details right.

Lovably rough around the edges and prone to little diversions the film mirrors the personalities of the characters at its core. It's a little bit awkward, a little bit stupid when it comes to expressing its emotions, but entirely a labor of love. You Said What is a film that avoids Apatow-style grossout and irritating post modern irony, instead opting for a more earnest, character based approach that mirrors the teen comedies produced alongside the 80's pop tunes that make up the soundtrack. The gags are mostly low key and situational rather than big punch lines, the film relying on audiences identifying closely with the characters they see on screen for its effect. And let's be honest: If you're seeing this film at Fantastic Fest you know these characters very well indeed and very likely are one of them yourself.

Directors Patrik Syversen and Nini Bull Robsahm leave behind the stylized approach of Syversen's earlier work instead embracing a more low key, indie approach to keep the focus on the actors rather than the camera. Good move. Star Henrik Thodesen delivers a charming performance as Glenn, the fragile and sensitive young man in the eye of the storm, with Odd Magnus Williamson (Reprise), Stig Frode Henriksen (Dead Snow) and Stein Johan Grieg Halvorsen nailing the dynamics of the core group that cook up the fake audition scheme in the first place. Throw in a winning performance by Marte Christensen - entirely believable as the girl Glenn falls for - and you've got a winning combination.

A low key charmer, You Said What proves that geeks have a heart, too.
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