SLEEPING GIANT (#TIFF15 Review)
Written by Andrew Cividino, Blain Watters and Aaron Yeger / Directed by Andrew Cividino / Starring Jackson Martin, Reece Moffett and Nick Serino
Riley: I wouldn’t go so far as legendary but it was impressive.
Expanded from the short film of the same name, SLEEPING GIANT is an accomplished debut and a truly evocative film from Dundas, Ontario native, Andrew Cividino. The film, which tells the story of three very different teenage boys spending their summer in Northern Ontario cottage country, is a subtle slow burn that is visually arresting, astutely insightful and that announces a gigantic new voice in Canadian cinema.
Of the three boys, Adam (Jackson Martin) is the film’s central focus. He spends his summers at his parents’ cottage every year and this year he has two new friends, Riley and Nate (Reece Moffett and Nick Serino respectively). Adam is a very quiet boy; you can tell from the way that he carries himself that he doesn’t make friends easily and that he isn’t quite comfortable with himself just yet. Riley and Nate are not at all like Adam; they’re both loud and raucous, Nate being the more rowdy of the two. When Riley sees Adam’s father making out at a party with someone other than his mother, it eventually gets back to Adam, which awakens the sleeping giant within.
To call SLEEPING GIANT a consummate coming of age film does not do it justice. Cividino guides these three young men along their journeys delicately and with great care. The choices they make, the experiences they have, come off as both insignificant and monumental simultaneously, which allows for the boys to go through these moments without realizing how they’re shaping the men they will become. Cividino does this by diverting our attention to a fleeting touch or a passing glance, leaving much of the film to rely on actions instead of words. And what is being said is far more about what isn’t than what is.
While Cividino’s direction is concise and efficient, he does have a few other secret weapons hidden up his sleeve, namely the three young actors who carry us through the ups and downs of not only this summer but their emotions as well. All three convey their internal struggles admirably, without being too obvious or ever giving too much of themselves away. They genuinely appear to be discovering who they are before our very eyes and my heart went out to all three of them.
The nature of a sleeping giant is that you never know what will set it off and wake it up from its deep slumber. Cividino and his trio of talented youngsters capture that moment brilliantly and now that Cividino’s own SLEEPING GIANT has been unleashed, I doubt he will ever get it back to sleep again. Then again, why would he want to?
How many sheep would you give Sleeping Giant?