Sleeping Giant – Movie Review
Rating: B (Good)
Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy D Films
Films about pre-teens coming of age are a dime a dozen with Netflix queues and video store shelves littered with such tales of angst and the discomfort of growing up. Sleeping Giant, a tiny Canadian film, has a degree of reality to it as it details a lazy summer with three boys. It’s a simple story with multiple character threads and director/co-writer Andrew Cividino, adapting his own short film, has a real grasp of his young cast. It’s a film that doesn’t necessarily expect the audience to sympathise for these youngsters, instead trying to make us remember when we were immature and overly confident of our own abilities.
This is an uncensored and unflinching depiction of youth with the leads participating in profanity-laced boasts and smoking marijuana. At first, it seems like they will grate on the nerves and admittedly, none of them become charming. However, they do grow as characters. Nate is the most obnoxious, prone to immature fits and one wonders why Adam hangs out with him. Their conversations have an improvisational feel, which lends to Sleeping Giant’s naturalism. Sexual frustration becomes the core theme with the film subtly showing Adam’s confusion towards his inner desires. That this is not overt works to the film and the character’s advantage.
The adults are purposely in the background, though Adam’s father and a local drug dealer play key roles in the plot. In some ways, they represent the distrust these youth have for their elders, after years of seeing them as an authority. All the while, tensions rise to uncomfortable levels and the actors manage to effectively navigate those tricky waters. Jackson Martin, Nick Serino and Reece Moffett give strong performances without falling into the usual pre-teen actor tics. It almost feels like cameras merely followed them around, as they spent their summer on the shores of Ontario. Had they been wooden and obviously acting, the entire project would have fallen apart.
The film also seems to harken back to an era prior to cell phones dominating the eyes of young people and the times when they would go out and explore. Even something like burning moths, as demented as it is, has a degree of innocence. It’s when temperaments run high that problems arise as the boys realise they are growing up with the world around them. The script takes an unexpected turn that proves effective and never ending up in over-the-top melodrama. The only aspect of Sleeping Giant that feels overdone is the camera. It has a tendency to uncontrollably shake, which is distracting and takes one out of the movie.
With its uncensored depiction of youth during a lazy summer, Sleeping Giant captures the immaturity of that time in a boy’s life as they face consequences for some of their actions. It’s about when a person is not completely knowledgeable about what growing up entails and the confusion that reigns. It would be curious to see the reaction from a thirteen year old compared to an older person, upon watching this film. Their interpretations will certainly be different, but by how much? Andrew Cividino is a director who certainly has a lengthy career ahead of him, whether it’s continuing to depict young people or tackling other subject matter.