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Giant Little Ones

It’s a shame that this movie will probably go under the radar and not be seen by many. It reminded me of the terrific Love, Simon, if it were made as an indie film. It doesn’t help that it’s saddled with a title that…well, I’m not even sure what it means and I’ve seen the movie.

This is the second movie from Canadian writer/director Keith Behrman, and he did an excellent job of avoiding the cliches you see in other coming out stories. In fact, this might be the only coming out story where…nobody really comes out. And that’s rather interesting.

Two best friends are on the swim team together. Both have girlfriends, and families they’re close with. Well, Franky (Josh Wiggins) is having some problems with his dad (Kyle MacLachlan, who’s excellent). That’s because Dad recently left his wife and kids for a man. Mom is played by Maria Bello, who does a good job, although they should’ve made her less angry at the husband and a bit stricter with the kids. For example, there’s a scene where she lets them have a party, as long as it wraps up by 1 a.m. when she returns from a date. When she sees bags filled with empty beer cans, she merely kicks it and makes a joke about all the pizza they had. Hmmm…she may have her priorities out of whack.

Franky’s friend Ballas (Darren Mann) seems like an okay kid. He breaks up a fight in the locker room. He’s trying to help his friend lose his virginity at his birthday party, and he brags about the amount of times he’s slept with his girlfriend. Yet the night of the party, Franky doesn’t sleep with his girlfriend. He ends up in bed with Ballas, and in a clever move, we don’t see exactly what happens. We merely see the bomb that goes off afterwards, when the entire school seems to know about it. It’s also rather interesting how the audience finds out what happened, and how the classmates have gotten this information. I can’t explain more without giving things away, and it’s much more interesting if you watch it all unfold.

Every time I thought the movie was going down a path I didn’t like, it didn’t go there. It’s so refreshing that a movie can avoid all the things we’ve seen before.

Even the dad character being gay, made me cringe at first. I thought — the odds are probably astronomical for a gay man to have a son that’s also gay; and I wondered if dopes that watch this movie would foolishly believe that if a gay man raises a son, they might have a higher chance of becoming gay. Yet you start to realize that, Franky might not even be gay. He’s discovering who he is. This leads to a conversation with his dad that’s about 10 times better than the overrated and unrealistic scene we had with father and son at the end of Call Me By Your Name.

Many aspects of this film are so subtly done, and that’s refreshing, too.

There are scenes at a party that are edited well, with loud techno music, that give you the vibe of the evening. Other times, there are quiet bike rides that convey a contemplative scene nicely.

There are scenes with teenagers fighting, and parents trying to get a grip on the situation, that reminded me of the terrific Polanski film Carnage. And after one violent scene, I yelled at the TV (I was watching a screener at home), “You better call the damn cops! I’m sick of people never calling the police in these situations.”

The next scene, an officer is taking a report. At that point, I wondered if this movie could do no wrong.

Josh Wiggins reminded me a bit of Lucas Hedges, who played a similar character in Boy Erased.

Niamh Wilson (from the Saw movies) plays Mouse, a friend that is transgender, and reminded me a lot of Ellen Page. I thought her scenes could’ve been written a bit more sharply. They were supposed to add some comic relief, and they were hit-and-miss.

This was a nuanced film that really packed an emotional punch. There’s a scene with a flare gun that provides such an incredible visual near the end.

It’s never preachy or heavy-handed, and is a tenderly told story that my wife and I really enjoyed watching. You’ll enjoy watching it, especially at the Angelika Film Center, with those reclining seats. 

3 ½ stars out of 5.

 

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