Review: ‘Jitters’

An intelligent, sensitive Icelandic high schooler comes to grips with his sexuality in likable teen soap opera "Jitters," from first-time feature helmer Baldvin Z.

An intelligent, sensitive Icelandic high schooler comes to grips with his sexuality in likable teen soap opera “Jitters,” from first-time feature helmer Baldvin Z. Recounting the coming-out trials of 16-year-old Gabriel (Atli Oskar Fjalarson), as well as the coming-of-age tribulations of his peers, the narrative feels overstuffed with incident, but teens should relate to its fraught, alcohol-fueled ambience, where friends mean everything and adults are irksome meddlers. After a strong domestic run, this well-cast, convincingly performed pic is claiming kudos at youth fests. Gay fests should also take note.

Dispatched to a three-week English-language course in Manchester, U.K., by his controlling mother (co-scripter Ingibjorg Reynisdottir), Gabriel embarks on some out-of-the classroom learning experiences with roommate Markus (Haraldur Ari Stefansson). Back in Reykjavik, he wonders how to continue their relationship while running interference for womanizing buddy Teddi (Elias Kofoed Hansen) and providing a shoulder for high-strung Stella (Hreindis Ylva Gardarsdottir) to cry on. Meanwhile, Greta (Birna Run Eiriksdottir) moves out of her drunken mother’s house, and plenty of females, including Greta’s new housemate, Judit (Maria Birta), try to get Gabriel in bed. Colorful assembly nails pic’s contempo teen world.

Jitters

Iceland

Production

A Sam Film release of an Icelandic Film Co. production with the support of the Icelandic Film Center. (International sales: Raven Banner Entertainment, Toronto.) Produced by Julius Kemp, Ingvar Thordarson. Directed by Baldvin Z. Screenplay, Ingibjorg Reynisdottir, Z.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Johann Johannsson; editor, Sigurbjorg Jonsdottir; music, Olafur Arnalds; production designer, Halfdan Pedersen; art director, Hulda Helgadottir; costume designers, Margret Einarsdottir, Selma Ragnarsdottir. Reviewed on DVD, London, June 4, 2011. (In Cannes Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Atli Oskar Fjalarson, Hreindis Ylva Gardarsdottir, Birna Run Eiriksdottir, Haraldur Ari Stefansson, Elias Kofoed Hansen, Maria Birta. (Icelandic, English dialogue)

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