Whether it’s cold feet or just the natural surge of adrenaline, weddings can be far more stressful for the betrothed than most usually let on. Otoja Abit’s short film centers on a young man with his nuptials bearing down upon him, locking himself in the back room of the church and fretting over what was and what could have been. While Jitters is buttressed by a committed cast, rich colorization, and dynamic cinematography, it manages to squander its own goodwill on its chop shopped narrative and a mentally unstable protagonist.
After being instructed by his psychiatrist Dr. Shannon (Jason Patric) to live in the moment and to roll with life’s punches, Michael (Abit) is still reeling in an existential crisis on the choices he made and the way things could have been different. While Michael tries to make a staffer (Steven Wody) his impromptu shrink minutes before he is to say “I do,” Blake (Walker Hare) tries to reassure and console his closest friend as they traipse his past relations with Sacha (Jonny Beauchamp) and Morgan (Angelic Zambrana) and how they all affect his imminent choice.
“…a young man with his nuptials bearing down upon him…fretting over what was and what could have been.“
While most scenes are beautifully shot, lit, and colored, it cannot distract from how the stilted writing overshadows the whole film. Though (assumed via the film’s ending) we are to feel a stronger connection to Michael with a deeper empathy (or at least a cursory understanding) for his neurotic tendencies, the story does not bear that intent out. The character is seemingly abrasive, spoiled, and not interested in the emotions of those around him; and while the initial instances in which this tone is embraced could have worked, Michael undergoes no noticeable arc. Since he remains the same misguided, detached man (as he was in most of the flashbacks), I never feel that his connections, which we are made to accept are deeply rooted in these past interactions, are at all believable.
The film manages moments of sincerity and earnestness, though it primarily swirls about its protagonist, as he neither learns anything nor changes anything about his behavior. While their interesting perspective on the neurosis around love does make for a fascinating treatment, the filmmakers rely solely on expository dialogue and the audience’s goodwill to sell its message, and in the end, it doesn’t manage the sale. Jitters wants to say a lot but is ultimately defined by its shaky plotting and weak characterization.
Jitters (2018) Directed by Otoja Abit. Written by Otoja Abit. Starring Otoja Abit, Jason Patric, Walker Hare, Steven Wody, Angelic Zambrana. Jitters screened at the 2018 HollyShorts Film Festival
4 out of 10