By Sanita Fejzic
If you’re in the mood for an eerie and intense coming-of age story, The Giants delivers without any pretence. The film’s strength is in its honest and straightforward depiction of the pain and resilience of adolescence. Check it out on November 30 as the 28th European Union Film Festival, which has brought us films from 27 countries across the European Union, wraps up.
The Giants, a Belgium gem, plays on Saturday night at 9 p.m. The French language film with English subtitles is a coming of age story of two brothers, Seth and Zak, and their friend Danny, as they struggle to survive the summer in the woods of Belgium. Seth and Zak’s mother, the only parent we know of, is nothing more than a voice over the cell phone: she is never seen and is either too busy or too broke to take care of her sons.
The young actors’ performances are incredible — unselfconscious in their delivery of banal and complex adolescent moments, including scenes of goofiness but also of violence and isolation.
Between smoking weed and shooting a gun, the boys face an impressive landscape. Actor-turned-director Bouli Lanners has made river, sky, and forest into a fourth character, one whose presence is pivotal and whose role may be the most mystical of all.
The movement of the film is slow, reflecting the vastness and timelessness of the setting. While the middle may feel like it’s dragging along, I think it adds to the aesthetic quality of the whole piece, one that echoes the tranquil strength of rural Belgium.
The Giants captured two prizes on its debut in the prestigious Director’s Fortnight section of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. It is showcased the night before the festival ends and well worth the night out, as you won’t be able to see it elsewhere in the region.
The Giants. Saturday, Nov. 30. 9 p.m.
Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St.