Today: February 25, 2024

The Giants

There is something immediately reminiscent of Mark Twain in The Giants.

There is something immediately reminiscent of Mark
Twain in The Giants.
That sensibility of youth being tested
long before it’s ready and persevering due to a natural lust of life. As with many European films there
is not a whole lot of story going on but the mood, atmosphere and sense of the
folly of youth is enough to make The Giants a fun little film.

Abandoned by
their parents at their deceased grandfather’s house for the summer, 15 year-old
Danny (Paul Bartel) and 13 year-old
Zak (Zacharie Chasseriaud) waste
away their days joy riding in granddad’s old car and trying to forage enough
money from under the sofa to buy weed. When they meet fellow youngster Seth (Martin Nissen), he joins the party and points them in the direction
of local drug dealer Beef (Didier Toupy). But with money running out and their
next-door neighbour growing suspicious of where the food from his cellar is
going, the three boys offer to rent their home to Beef in order for him to use
it as a harvesting house for his product.
Things soon go from bad to worse as the boys find themselves homeless
and with little money to get by.

What little plot
there is sounds heavy handed, something that is typically gritty art house
material. But The Giants is a
sweet natured film about three boys enjoying each others company no matter what
the world throws at them. Like Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer they’re not going to let a little poverty or absent
parents get in the way of a good time.
Yes, at times they’re down on their luck and depressed but even at their
lowest they are able to laugh and smile as long as they have each other. And like Twain’s characters they spend
a fair old time on boats and huts lining the Belgium countryside.

Director Bouil Lanners keeps the film void of
music, allowing the natural emotions of the three boys to shine through rather
than force the issue. Even when the rain is pelting down on them, having just
lost their last hope of a roof over their head, a simple boyish breaking of
wind results in a bout of unsuppressed laughter. In other hands, namely Adam Sandler’s, this sort of humour
would be puerile but here it’s real, honest and will almost certainly draw a

The look of the
film is stunning. Lanners, with
the help of cinematographer Jean-Paul De
, conjures images that perfectly capture the boys’ predicament. From the weed covered river water to a
car stranded in the middle of a corn field you are never far from a timely,
visual reminder that these boys are lost in the world, left to their own
devices and all too often relying on others for help.

The three leads
of Bartel, Chasseriaud and Nissen are all excellent. Their natural interactions and boyish banter is
effortless. It brings to mind the
interactions of quintessential coming of age film Stand By Me.
Chasseriaud in particular captures the immature but anxious to be
grown-up mentality of a 13 year-old spending his time as the baby of the

Like this year’s Sister, The Giants plays it loose with
story but possesses enough character and heart to keep you firmly
involved. Giants might be pushing
it but these Giants can certainly stand tall.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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