Sleeping Giant


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Sleeping Giant
"Jackson Martin, Nick Serino and Reece Moffett have great chemistry and give wonderfully naturalistic performances, making them easy to engage with."

On the cusp of adolescence, there's a point at which the world and possibilities it offers seem to shrink. This often coincides with the point at which the memory of good times past builds up expectations that are harder and harder to satisfy. It's a time of inevitable disappointment but also a time to explore and experiment, to seek out new experiences. If you're stuck in a small place, you push everything you can to the limit.

Adam, Nate and Riley are on their summer holidays. None of them are doing very well in school,so it's good to get away from all that pressure, even if they have nothing much to do. They climb trees and fallen logs, they splash around in the water and the fight continually, without requiring any actual disagreement to exist first. There are constant tests to see who is the toughest or the bravest, and there's also squabbling and real emotional angst over who is whose best friend, plus the distractions of girls - how to balance friendship and lust, how to gain sexual experience (and thereby bragging rights) without coming across as the sort of failure who actually cares about someone. Emotions run high even if they have to be kept secret. Everything is intense. Never mind first love, this is a time for first beer, and the slacker drug dealer out in the woods has other treats to offer.

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The boys are supervised only lightly. Adam's dad (David Disher) relates to them easily, perhaps because he still has some growing up of his own to do, and he helps them find various opportunities for fun whilst giving his son some serious worries. In general, their freedom seems to do them good, but there are problems. There aren't really any responsible adults around to tell them the difference between exciting things that could leave them a bit beaten up and exciting things that could actually kill them. With the adults distracted by heir own concerns, the boys are left to figure it out for themselves.

Jackson Martin, Nick Serino and Reece Moffett have great chemistry and give wonderfully naturalistic performances, making them easy to engage with. Their sense of fun is such that it's easy to overlook their casual obnoxiousness, and their hurt at small betrayals is so intense that the viewer is quickly won over to their side. Andrew Cividino's camera moves like they do, easily distracted, following whatever is interesting at the time. This means we often cut away from adult conversations still in progress or abandon a subject before we've learned all we want to about it, but it doesn't take long to get into the rhythm of this, and it helps us connect with the boys' limited awareness of the world as well as with the rapid pace at which they take it in. Together with a naturalistic script which deftly introduces each personality, it creates an immersive space where the story unravels with ease. Adults may find this nostalgic; kids the same age will be relieved that for once somebody has been paying attention.

Reviewed on: 02 Feb 2016
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Sleeping Giant packshot
Coming of age story about a trio of teenagers.

Director: Andrew Cividino

Writer: Andrew Cividino, Blain Watters, Aaron Yeger

Starring: Jackson Martin, Nick Serino, Reece Moffett, David Disher, Katelyn McKerracher

Year: 2015

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: Canada

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