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article imageReview: ‘Giant Little Ones’ wonders what it’s like to love without labels Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 31, 2019 in Entertainment
‘Giant Little Ones’ is an intelligent exploration of teenage sexuality and the added complexity of having to apply labels to any experience.
Being a teenager is probably one of the most complex phases of a person’s life. While it lacks much of the responsibility of being an adult, it feels like everything occurs under a microscope so it’s magnified and all-encompassing. The slightest misstep can make you a social pariah, while a seemingly trivial act can make you a god. There are some rules so it’s not all completely arbitrary, but they change with the tides so no one and nothing are ever truly safe — someone can be atop a high school’s mountain one minute and mangled at its base the next. Giant Little Ones captures all these intricacies in just a few weeks of an adolescent’s life.
Franky (Josh Wiggins) and Ballas (Darren Mann) have been friends since they were kids. Now, they’re stars of the swim team, popular with girls and having the best possible high school experience. At home, Franky struggles with his parents’ divorce, having decided to side with his mother (Maria Bello) when his father (Kyle MacLachlan) left them for another man. Nonetheless, he’s a pretty typical teen and nothing can stop him from having an epic, no adult house party to celebrate his 17th birthday. But an incident abruptly puts a stop to the revelry and threatens to end a long-time friendship. Rumours turn to violence and Franky is left to deal with the fallout alone… until he renews his relationship with Ballas’ younger sister, Natasha (Taylor Hickson).
The further teens are in this phase of their lives, the more pressure they feel to have it all sorted out. But it’s also an incredibly confusing time, during which they’re trying new things and making a lot of mistakes that could have a lasting impact. Franky’s friend, Mouse (Niamh Wilson), is an overt example of a harmless search for self, which leads to the most awkward instance of show-and-tell. Meanwhile, Franky and Ballas are practically high school royalty, so the moment a potential threat to their positions arises Ballas unnecessarily goes on the offensive to secure his status. Natasha sums up her brother’s actions perfectly in an eye-opening conversation with Franky and from that point forward their mutual understanding of Ballas’ insecurity renews their bond.
It’s a tough and unfair lesson for Franky to endure, but it gradually makes him a better man. The audience spends half the movie without knowing exactly what happened, making it clear the details are less important than their implications. Wiggins delivers an exceptional performance in which he explicitly demonstrates Franky’s rollercoaster of emotions and eventual growth. The repercussions of the incident are pretty extreme at times, yet his portrayal feels entirely genuine. Similarly, Hickson is portraying a young woman who’s been through a lot and she does so with an authentic mix of strength and vulnerability.
Canadian writer/director Keith Behrman’s sophomore feature is a thoughtful examination of the harm that comes from a need for labels and how empowering it can be to stop needing them to define one’s relationships. His use of an eclectic soundtrack into which Franky regularly escapes is also a key element in shaping this youthful world.
Director: Keith Behrman
Starring: Josh Wiggins, Darren Mann and Taylor Hickson
More about Giant Little Ones, Josh Wiggins, Darren Mann, maria bello, Kyle MacLachlan
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