Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

We open on a foreign exchange programme between Iceland and England. The two students are Gabriel and Markus. The pair could not be more different. Gabriel has black hair, and wears it carefully over his face like an introspection-defying shield. Both of them are conventionally handsome. Markus is far less conservative than Gabriel - and is up for a laugh and whatever cute warm bodies he can get his hands on. Early on he asks:

"You're the cuddly one, right? The one girls go to when they've been treated badly by guys, right?"

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After a drink-fuelled night out, Markus and Gabriel kiss. Gabriel seems to change overnight. And the family do not hold back their questions. His control-freak harpy of a mother holds numerous accusatory family meetings to get to the bottom of her son’s change of personality. It’s obvious to us, which makes these scenes uninteresting and rather perfunctory, especially since they’re repeated with similar half-hearted relish.

We’re quickly introduced to Gabriel’s friends - Stella, a young naive girl obviously smitten with Gabriel, who can’t piece together why he feels nothing beyond the “cuddly” warm friendship she’s known when times are tough. (Her relationship with the closeted Gabriel would definitely be filed as "It's Complicated" - is she his beard, or is he her only true love?)

Another of his girl friends - Greta - leaves home and her borderline alcoholic and depressed wastrel of a mother behind. At a party, she staggers in and starts swigging vodka out of a teacup, the nearest vessel.

This is a relationship drama, simple and direct. It’s well-acted and the script speaks volumes and none of it appears lost in translation. It’s a post-pubescent teenage life lived in parties. The film has a remarkable visual portrayal of drunkenness, using dutch angles, slightly wide angle lenses, smoke, filters, thumping bass on the soundtrack and jump cuts. A duller, more oblivious and heightened reality.

One of Greta’s new friends finds her absentee father, a seriously shopworn script cliche given a modern fresh twist as Facebook users' naivety is exploited. In an equally interesting technological twist, Gabriel finds his mother poring over his computer looking for evidence as to her son's change of mood.

Stella lives with her overprotective, stifling, and horrendously racist grandmother. Decides to leave home, and gets a job at the local store. One of the workers, Mitrovic, obviously takes a fancy to her.

As a relationship drama, Jitters is moderately successful - some story strands work better than others (Gabriel's walking penis and raging id of a friend goes absolutely nowhere, and the central romance is mawkish and undercooked.) The film is well-directed, the young actors are effective and believable; only occasional slips in the script, and the sheer amount of dramatic material taken aboard fail to convince, resulting in a strange concoction that doesn’t satisfy. There’s enough quality writing here for several episodes of Skins, but at an all-too-brief 95 minutes, the movie fails to make the most of any of its story threads. Disappointing.

Reviewed on: 16 Jun 2011
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A refreshing coming of age story which plays like an Icelandic Skins.
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Neil Mitchell **1/2

Director: Baldvin Z

Writer: Ingibjörg Reynisdóttir, Baldvin Z

Starring: Atli Óskar Fjalarson, Hreindís Ylva Garöarsdóttir Hólm, Haraldur Ari Stefánsson

Year: 2010

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Iceland


EIFF 2011

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