Baldvin Z’s Jitters is a carefully crafted Icelandic coming of age (and coming out) film.
The story starts in Manchester where, on a school trip, students Gabriel (Atli Oskar Fjalarsson) and Markus (Haraldur Ari Stefánsson) share a drunken kiss.
Arriving back in Iceland, Gabriel rejoins his friends and their problems – long lost fathers, teen break-ups and clashes with guardians – as he struggles to come to terms with his sexuality.
While the film gives a generous amount of screen time to the entire group’s woes, it is Gabriel’s story which forms the bulk of the plot.
The two leads – but especially Fjalarsson – beautifully capture the struggles of youth and the growing realisation of difference.
Despite offering a fairly bleak look at the lives of Gabriel’s social circle, Jitters allows some optimism to creep in. Here it is only young gay men who are troubled by their own homosexuality, other characters are sympathetic and accepting.
Many watching will look back at their own journey and wish that had been true for them. Others will hope it’s so.
UK audiences will find it impossible to avoid comparing this film with Channel 4’s Skins – they share the same vibrant mix of youthful woe, hedonism and shared destiny – but this film is more tender in tone than much of that show’s output and immensely watchable for it.
Our verdict: 4/5
Jitters is currently showing at the 26th BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival