This refreshing and intelligent coming-of-age story is compelling to watch from beginning to end.
As any adult can testify being a teenager can be a hard emotional time in our lives in an attempt to make the transition between childhood and adult as easy as possible. But as this honest and engaging film reveals, it is also the time in which we discover the most about ourselves.
Directed and written by Keith Behrman, Giant Little Ones follows the lives of best friends Franky and Ballas. Childhood friends and popular at school they seem to have the ideal friendship – until the night of Franky’s 17th Birthday party that sees them both taking very different paths.
Without ever becoming preachy, the film is refreshingly honest about how the unexpected sexual encounter transforms both Franky and Ballas in equally heartbreaking but completely different ways to great effect. While Franky attempts to move on from the bullying and gossip at school with great difficulty, Ballas turns his feelings inside turning more aggressive and cruel in attempt to hide who he really is to keep with the popular crowd.
But the film also adds extra depth with Franky’s awkward relationship with his father, who divorced his mother when he discovered that he was gay, striking parallels with Franky’s own position through the film. Some of the film’s strongest moments are when the pair struggle to reconnect – their conversations are raw and heartfelt. Meanwhile, Franky’s friendship with Natasha is touching to watch develop, with the moments in which we see their vulnerability proving to be particularly moving.
Every element of both central characters and their torment is clear in every scene, making this one of the most powerful and honest coming-of-age films I have seen. Giant Little Ones is a film that is easily relatable with regards to the harshness of being a teenager – for example the locker room scenes highlight this perfectly.
Guy Godfree’s cinematography exquisitely captures every moment, every emotion to great effect to completely absorb the audience’s attention. Every shot is used to make a point beautifully.
But what also makes this film such an absorbing watch is the two mature performances delivered by Josh Wiggins as Franky and Darren Mann as Ballas that warmly depicts their friendship but also shows just how the different way in which they handle things eventually tears them apart. Mann in particular, captures the way in which Ballas is inwardly suffering then reveals itself in cruelty as the final fight (excellently choreographed) between the pair shows – his pain and struggle to deal with the incident is clear to see. Meanwhile, Wiggins effectively highlights Franky’s frustration with people in trying to define him by the incident and his sexuality – it is an emotionally intense and mature performance. There are also lovely performances from Kyle McLachlan and Maria Bello as Franky’s parents who try and support him as much as they can.
Overall, Giant Little Ones is a subtle but powerful coming-of-age story that truly celebrates the power of friendship, self-discovery and not being defined by your sexuality. Life can not be defined by ‘boxes’ separated by different elements of it – it isn’t that simple as this film beautifully shows.
By Emma Clarendon