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Review by Randy Shulman
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/22/2011, 3:00 PM
Feature presentation, $12 at Lisner Auditorium
English with Icelandic and English subtitles
AMONG THE JOYS of film festivals is the chance to experience works from other countries, to suss out the differences — and similarities — in our various cultures. By that criteria, the Icelandic drama Jitters is not all that different from the U.K.’s Skins (though it’s considerably tamer) or Larry Clark’s still-bracing 1995 drama, Kids.
Directed by Baldvin Zophoníasson, Jitters starts off on a promising note, as two teens on a summer exchange trip to Britain form a friendship that becomes something more. Upon their return home, Gabriel (Atli Oskar Fjalarsson) pushes the fling aside and tries to resume a “normal” existence with his small circle of friends, Greta, Stella and Teddi. But he’s been forever altered by the blond boy named Markus (Haraldur Ari Stefansson), and it’s not long before the two meet again with confusing and emotionally-cataclysmic results.
Gabriel’s storyline dominates the film, but several other narratives force the teens to confront life’s brutalities. Greta’s mother, for instance, is a horrific lush, and the girl moves out hoping to find the unknown man who fathered her during a one-night-stand. Stella — Gabriel’s best friend — has an even greater problem: chronic depression, exacerbated by a domineering grandmother. Not a good mix, it turns out.
While we can appreciate the performances (the kids are all solid, especially Fjalarsson), and the movie’s universal themes (teens like drinking, drugging, kissing and Facebooking), getting to the movie’s resolution feels like an eternity. Yet when things finally kick in, Jitters finds its purpose. Turns out, it was worth the wait.