Movie Review: 'Giants Being Lonely'
It's taken more than 2 years but Grear Patterson's masterful 'Giants Being Lonely' is now available for streaming rental.
It's been quite a journey for the makers of Giants Being Lonely. The film opened to much praise at the Venice Film Festival in 2019 but was unable to garner distribution. More than a year later, Director Guillermo Del Toro saw the movie and was blown away by it. With his help, Writer-Director Grear Patterson and Executive Producer Olmo Schnabel, son of the famous director Julian Schnabel, found confidence in their ending and a champion who believed and has since leant his strength the film's release.
Giants Being Lonely is an incredibly engrossing and stunning work of art. Set around the comforting and familiar setting of a High School baseball diamond, the movie lulls you into a trance of familiar experiences from teenage years gone by, all while setting the stage for something unpredictable and yet, somehow inevitable. Written and directed by newcomer Grear Patterson, Giants Being Lonely is a remarkable work of art.
Giants Being Lonely has two tracks of story being told. On one track is star baseball player Bobby Smith (Jack Irv) and on the other is his teammate, Adam (Ben Irving). While Smith is beloved by everyone in their small North Carolina town, he appears too reserved and naïve to knowingly take advantage of anyone. Mostly, Bobby just pines for his ex-girlfriend Caroline (Lily Gavin) who appears willing to get back together with him if he ever actually tried to be with her.
Adam meanwhile, also has a thing for Caroline and wants to ask her to prom. Adam however, has trouble at home that makes making plans difficult. Adam’s father, everyone just calls him Coach (Gabe Fazio), finds Adam to be a constant disappointment. Adam is always in the shadow of Bobby on the field and off the field, Adam’s dad’s way of making his son better is through humiliation, violence and fear.
Adam’s mother, we will only know her as Mrs. S (Amalia Culp), is also terrified of Adam’s father. Though we don’t see Coach act out violence against his wife, the clues are hard to miss, especially after she begins to have a dangerous and misguided affair. Many of the characters in Giants Being Lonely find comfort in sex and the desire for intimacy drives much of the story that unfolds in Giants Being Lonely. Whether it is sexual intimacy or the desire for parental affection of any kind, the characters of Giants Being Lonely, young and old, share the very relatable desire to be cared for. The availability or lack thereof, of basic intimacy lingers under the placid, beautiful, surface of Giants Being Lonely.
The title Giants Being Lonely comes from a poem by the legendary Carl Sandburg:
“Sometimes old men sitting near the exits of life say, “there were giants in those days”. They wanted stones to sit on, stones to throw at each other, great stones for companions, for loneliness, all giants being lonely.”
Sandburg had another quote that is apt of the characters in the movie Giants Being Lonely. Sandburg once said “The worst feeling isn’t being lonely but being forgotten by someone you can’t forget.” You can apply that thought to just about everyone in Giants Being Lonely. It could be Matt pining for Caroline, thinking she’s left him behind. It could be Adam thinking of his mother whom he feels has forgotten him because she doesn’t try to stop his father from abusing him. By the same token, Mrs S could feel this way about her husband who is no longer the man she married, he’s a violent stranger terrifying her like a specter of someone she once knew.
I’m bringing most of my feelings and applying them to Giants Being Lonely. The movie is almost entirely sub textual, inviting you to read the movie, to invest in these characters what you think they must be thinking. The actual movie is more about a series of gorgeous visions surrounding characters who are familiar yet distant. You can try to define them but it’s entirely up to you. That is, until the end when something so shocking happens that you will either gasp in awe or throw your beverage at the screen.
The power of Giants Being Lonely comes from gorgeous visuals, languid pacing and the desire for the audience to do the heavy, emotional lifting. These characters are incredibly well observed but they don’t dump exposition, they don’t explain everything they are feeling or even try to communicate their feelings through typical emotional cues. The characters are guarded and shy in the way so many real people are.
Adam is deeply troubled but the movie doesn’t linger on him acting out. Rather, you have to pay attention to him, you have to regard him not like a movie character who is explaining everything through acting, you have to read his actions and try to see beyond the sad, guarded façade of a deeply troubled young man. Ben Irving’s understated performance is just lovely and with it he delivers on a gut punch of an ending.
Similarly, Bobby played by Jack Irv could be a character from Dazed and Confused until he opens his mouth to say a few words and they squeak out almost under his breath. The high school superstar is a shy kid, obnoxious when he wants to be but mostly just pining over a girl and taking advantage of what few opportunities he gets for moments of joy. Bobby lost his mother when he was very young and his father never recovered from the loss. The two share a love for the music of Lou Reed and dad listens to a Reed record on a loop on an old record player.
Reed’s haunting Coney Island Baby plays over the end credits of Giants Being Lonely and is the pitch perfect coda, the perfect song to be playing as you are hyperventilating or coming down after the shock ending of Giants Being Lonely. Writer-Director Grear Paterson has crafted a genuine masterpiece and caps it with one of Reed’s masterworks. The synergy is heartbreaking and deeply felt.