Gabriel is sixteen, gay and confused. Along with few of his closest friends, he is trying to figure out who he is and where he stands in an ever changing and complicated world.
Jitters (original title Órói) is based on two teen novels by author Ingibjörg Reynisdóttir: Strákarnir med strípurnar ("The Boys with Highlights") and Rótleysi, rokk og rómantík ("Restlessness, Rock and Romance"). The star actor in this film is Atli Óskar Fjalarsson who plays Gabríel, a 16-year-old adolescent at a turning point in his life. During the summer before his freshman year in high school, or framhaldsskóli, he embarks upon a journey of self-discovery, a journey in which he experiences the highs and lows of life before making peace with his inner self.
The movie opens in an English language school in Manchester. Gabríel is introduced to Markús, his Icelandic roommate for the next three weeks, and in that time they become close friends and discover a side of their selves they hadn’t dared to explore in their native surroundings. Back in Iceland and perhaps more confused than ever, Gabríel is re-united with his best friend Stella, a young girl who lives with her grandmother, and confides all her troubles to him.
The rest of the gang, all aged 16, are equally confused although perhaps less troubled than Stella and Gabríel. What they all have in common is their coming-of-age struggle in an age where the world moves at the speed of light and adult interferences seem less and less relevant to their reality.
The film’s success is rooted in the hard truth—so explicitly told—about the Icelandic reality, as we know it. The romantic illusion of American teen films is shattered here. Instead, portraits of drunken intercourse, excess drinking of adults and youths alike is the exposed reality.
The film is a sincere depiction of the ever-changing scenario of adolescence and the constant shift in normality from one generation to the next. The vast changes in technology and the seemingly de-romantification of love and sex is what we see on the surface of a realist film about teenagers.
The raging outbursts and ingratitude for the rare freedom teenagers experience in Iceland is merely an act. Underneath the tough surface, they do appreciate their freedom and have the capacity to make good choices. And however awkwardly they may go about finding love and tackle the obstacles posed by their parents, they seem to somehow make it all work.
The strong bonds of friendship are as important to today’s generation, as they have been to the older generations “surviving” these difficult years, and the same parental problems are inherited from one generation to the next. What is different is the positive change in attitudes toward the matters of the heart and the “laissez-faire” adaption of new norms.