Heartstone is now available to rent or buy.
At what age does the freedom and innocence of childhood become consumed by the mists of adolescence? The answer is, of course, different for every person – the journey to adulthood rooted in individual self-discovery. These themes have long been central to the coming-of-age genre and the coming-out drama. However, few films capture this transition’s complexity, intensity and emotion, like Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson’s Heartstone (Hjartasteinn).
In a small Icelandic fishing village, Thor (Baldur Einarsson) and Kristján (Blær Hinriksson) spend their days playing together. However, their shared childhood journey is slowly reaching its end as teenage feelings take hold in an isolated coastal community where everyone knows each other’s business. Here, both boys find brief moments of escape within the mountains, fields, junkyards, and pools. But the visual beauty of the rugged cliffs and peaks is also a claustrophobic nightmare for teenagers attempting to find their independence and identity. Thor finds this even more challenging as his physical development sits in the shadow of Kristján’s burgeoning manliness.
As the constraints of school vanish during Iceland’s long summer days, both Thor and Kristján engage in a series of clumsy attempts at romance with two local girls. Their insecurities are kept at bay by their protection of each other as they question everything around them. But as Thor falls for one of the girls, Kristján hides his true feelings in fear of isolation. However, as summer turns to autumn, then winter, the last faint glows of childhood vanish as Thor and Kristján tentatively take their first steps into adult life.
Guðmundsson weaves the brutal realities of early teenage life with unspoken community norms, family, social conflict, and rural isolation. Like A Swedish Love Story, Heartstone captures the raw reality of the emotions, fears, and joys of early adolescence; the bodies of our two leads demanding their attention while their minds remain caught in the void between childhood innocence and adult responsibility. Here the sublime performances of Baldur Einarsson and Blær Hinriksson wrap us in a realism that is rarely found in coming-out dramas as both boys emerge from the cocoon of childhood. Guðmundsson’s movie beautifully reflects the urgency and excitement of early sexual exploration in a caged community and the role community and family play in the coming-of-age journey of each young person in their care.
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