“The Man Who Loved Yngve” (“Mannen Som Elsket Yngve”)
A Love Triangle
Norwegian director Stian Kristiansen takes us back in time to an era with no modern communications technology; a time when life seemed so much simpler.
Jarle cannot spend time enough with his girlfriend Katrine that is when he’s not out skating. Yet more than anything he loves music, having formed a punk band with his friend Helge and it is set to debut on the local scene. It is 1989 and Jarle’s life is about to become confusing. A new kid, Yngve, a blond haired youth of differing musical and cultural background has arrived on the scene and he seems to have everything going for him, including Jarle who is soon openly flirting with him. Jarle realizes that he is in love with two people of different genders at the same time. It does seem that he leans more to the gay side from the way he looks at Yngve and dresses and fools with his hair. He is, as we say, smitten.
Music is important to the plot and we either hear from the bands or hear references to them (The Smiths; Combat Rock; Joy Division; Jesus and Mary Chain; REM The One I Love; The Cure).
Katrine (Ida Elise Bloch) is beautiful, passionate, drinks with the boys, goes to band practice, cries when boyfriend tries out new song on guitar and often initiates sex. She is a girl who is one of the gang and never lets anyone forget that she is female. However she isn’t enough for Jarle and when a new handsome male blonde arrives at school, he is taken aback. They first talk in the locker room shower, of all places. They plus Katrine become a rock trio but Jarle is filled with angst about being in love with two people. Our new boy aside from his good looks shares his drawings with Jarle. The boys practice together, deal with family issues and buy pot. Jarle and Katrine have good sex, Jarle can perform.
Through the film we relive frustrating years of youth. At the center of this is Jarle who has confidence and popularity. He has two great friends and a beautiful girl, but is searching for his true identity. His friends are anti-pop, button-wearing rockers who detest the yuppie culture and put almost anything down to maintaining their integrity. Their friendship and their slightly up-and-coming rock band are the only things sacred to them. Then Yngve appears and he is different in appearance and tone. He listens to arty synth pop (Japan), plays tennis and wears fashionable clothes. Jarle is intrigued, his friends are not.
The film’s aspirations and objectives are diverse, complex and not at all straightforward. Director Stian Kristiansen combines spoof/homage with profound discussions on identity, sexual orientation and youth. The acting is uniformly excellent. This is an Important and uplifting film that is convincing and well made. I have not seen many Norwegian films but if this is an example of what Norway can do, I am ready to seek them out.