I Am Jonas is a moving French gay coming of age film currently streaming on Netflix.
The Guardian says of the film, that it’s “a delightful slow-burn, depicts Jonas at two very different points in his life – first as an unhappy, aimless gay man living in the city, and also as an optimistic teenager exploring his sexuality for the first time with Nathan, a wild, carefree new kid. A bulk of the film’s narrative gains momentum through us not exactly knowing what is off with the adult Jonas, or what ended up happening to his first beau. Why does the sight of Nathan’s Gameboy Color spark a painful series of flashbacks? When you reach the conclusion, I Am Jonas effortlessly shifts from being a quiet, coming-of-age film to a larger, more interesting exploration of trauma and memory. The film’s quiet moments speak the loudest. One of the most touching scenes features Jonas and Nathan sharing an illicit cigarette inside their school’s gym, a palpable sexual tension between them as they break the rules. You can feel a deep sense of connection between them, with a subtext of how hard and difficult such a romance will be in a homophobic 90s French high school. Despite all of the inevitable challenges, the two boys kiss, a thrilling moment.”
While Decider says, “I Am Jonas is a lean, concise drama, strongly acted, smartly edited and crisply photographed. It seamlessly shifts between two timelines, bringing them together in the third act with some sleight-of-hand that’s clever without calling attention to itself. It’s expressive in a quiet, understated way, and is a thoughtful rumination on trauma and depression.It’s also about a gay man, but ultimately isn’t about his gayness. That’s just a fact of his life, and what separates it from so many other films, which might focus on Jonas’ sexual self-discovery. Surely, he wishes that was his life’s great struggle; his damage is much bigger than that, something that many who’ve experienced debilitating psychological anguish can surely relate to. And frankly, that’s most of us. Still, as good as I Am Jonas can be, it doesn’t fully engage the emotions. Perhaps it’s the film’s brevity; perhaps Jonas’ self-loathing keeps us, if not at arm’s length, then at least at a bent arm’s length. As a character study, it’s moderate in its depth, and feels like it needs more space and a few more scenes to fully flesh out Jonas, to draw us more intimately into his life.”
I Am Jonas is streaming on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.