×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cannes Film Review: ‘Sleeping Giant’

Sensual specificity elevates otherwise familiar coming-of-age material in Andrew Cividino's accomplished debut.

With:
Jackson Martin, Reece Moffett, Nick Serino, David Disher, Erika Brodzky, Katelyn McKerracher, Rita Serino, Kyle Bertrand, Lorraine Philip.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3778086/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_1

A near-tangible slick of midsummer sweat sits heavily atop each scene in Andrew Cividino’s diverting debut feature, “Sleeping Giant,” lending welcome sensual specificity to coming-of-age material that otherwise paddles in familiar waters. Recalling such recent U.S. independents as “The Kings of Summer” and “Hide Your Smiling Faces” in its examination of three teenage boys working through their masculine insecurities over the course of a muggy Lake Superior vacation, this iridescently shot expansion of Cividino’s award-winning 2014 short of the same title signposts its increasingly downbeat narrative too liberally to surprise, though a humid hint of homoerotic perspective distinguishes it from others in its amply populated genre. Not especially teen-targeted, “Sleeping Giant” isn’t the stuff of distributors’ dreams, though it’ll serve its confident helmer well as a festival-circuit calling card.

“YOLO,” sneers one of the three adolescent boys at the center of Cividino’s film in the opening scene, firmly cementing the film’s generational identity for future time-capsule use — the acronym, in case it needs spelling out, is contemporary teen slang for “you only live once.” It’s also the first instance of pointed foreshadowing in the film, signifying an imminent challenge to mortality before the summer is out: Unlike some youth-in-crisis films, “Sleeping Giant” benefits from genuinely high emotional stakes in the later, harsher going, even if the outcome is easy enough to anticipate.

Cividino, who keeps the story on a commendably tight leash throughout, wastes little time with extended character introductions. We encounter the boys, all in their early teens, play-fighting together on an idle scorcher of an afternoon, and their contrasting circumstances — and with those, the subtly crucial class differences they imply — emerge swiftly from there. It turns out that Adam (Jackson Martin), a sensitive, somewhat sheltered kid from an upper-middle-class family has only just met cousins Riley (Reece Moffett) and Nate (Nick Serino), and is still being sized up in the taunting, faux-macho way that boys (not to mention a fair few men) do. All three are vacationing in a snoozy lakeside resort town in Ontario — Adam with his well-to-do, would-be-hip parents, and Riley and Nate with their saltily affectionate grandmother (Rita Serino), who thinks nothing of her grandsons smoking her own cigarettes in her presence.

Adam and Riley — the more jockish and socially adept of the two cousins — bond quickly, and it’s not long before Riley is tagging along on family expeditions, clearly enjoying the material and emotional comforts missing from his own home life. Their friendship, however, only exacerbates the immediate antipathy toward Adam from Nate, an overstimulated and none-too-bright delinquent whose persistent, lewd declarations of sexual prowess make his naivete all the more transparent.

As this fractious trio hangs out through the summer, occasionally joined by Adam’s longtime friend Taylor (Katelyn McKerracher), the triangular needling between them escalates in hostility and consequentiality. Keen to take the richer boy’s seemingly perfect family down a notch, Nate passes along talk of Adam’s dad’s infidelity; meanwhile, the platonic nature of Adam and Taylor’s relationship becomes a source of ruthless teasing. Boys will be boys, yes, but Cividino doesn’t romanticize them: They can be pretty toxic, too.

Adam bears such bullying with a mild, impassive mien. He’s the least expressive of the three, though his reserved, observational perspective is the one most often shared by the film. The question of his nascent sexual identity is never openly addressed, though some may perceive nervous queer undertones to his gaze: If nothing else, his instant, defensive attachment to Riley seems a chaste kind of crush. Cividino depicts the tricky male power games between the boys with tact and compassionate impartiality: Adam may be the “good boy” of the group, but he’s not averse to a little brattiness. All three young actors excel, convincingly negotiating their characters’ impetuous mood swings and surges of false bravado; newcomers Moffett and Serino return from the film’s shorter incarnation, while Martin makes a delicate impression in the feature’s most quietly complex role.

Craftsmanship across the board is punchily accomplished, with the hot primary colors and sharp, symmetrical framing of James Klopko’s lensing giving “Sleeping Giant” a little more snap than other films of its ilk; the same goes for Chris Thornborrow and Bruce Peninsula’s heightened, often brashly percussive score. The title, incidentally, refers to a vertiginous seaside cliff that sounds a silent alarm early in proceedings; it’s the most spectacular and forbidding of the film’s lush, febrile locations.

Cannes Film Review: 'Sleeping Giant'

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Critics' Week), May 14, 2015. Running time: 90 MIN.

Production: (Canada) A Film Forge presentation and production in association with Hawkeye Pictures, Seville Intl. (International sales: Seville Intl., Toronto.) Produced by Andrew Cividino, Mark Swenker, James Vandewater, Aaron Yeger, Karen Harnisch. Executive producer, Aeschylus Poulos.

Crew: Directed by Andrew Cividino. Screenplay, Cividino, Aaron Yeger, Blain Watters. Camera (color), James Klopko; editor, James Vandewater; music, Chris Thornborrow, Bruce Peninsula; music supervisor, Jody Colero; production designer, Erika Lobko; sound, Adam Parsons; supervising sound editors, Paul Germann, Steve Medeiros; re-recording mixer, Matthew Chan; visual effects supervisor, Tim Sibley; line producer, Karen Harnisch; assistant director, Aaron Yeger.

With: Jackson Martin, Reece Moffett, Nick Serino, David Disher, Erika Brodzky, Katelyn McKerracher, Rita Serino, Kyle Bertrand, Lorraine Philip.

More Film

  • Brett Leonard Boards 'Elijah'

    Film News Roundup: 'Lawnmower Man' Director Brett Leonard Boards 'Elijah'

    In today’s film news roundup, “Elijah” gets a director, a French fry documentary starts shooting and “Uglydolls” moves its release date forward. PROJECT LAUNCH More Reviews Broadway Review: 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Film Review: 'Dead Women Walking' Brett Leonard, best known for directing ”The Lawnmower Man” and “Virtuosity,” will direct the supernatural feature film “Elijah,” [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Commercial Negotiations Set for February

    With no fanfare, SAG-AFTRA and the ad industry have set a mid-February start for negotiations for a successor deal to the union’s master contract, Variety has learned. The current three-year deal — which covers about $1 billion in annual earnings — expires on March 31. SAG-AFTRA and the Joint Policy Committee of the ad industry [...]

  • SONDRA LOCKESONDRA LOCKE - 1986

    Oscar Nominee Sondra Locke Dies at 74

    Actress and director Sondra Locke, who received a supporting actress Oscar nomination in her first movie role for “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” died Nov. 3 at 74. The Los Angeles County Public Health Department confirmed her death. She died due to breast and bone cancer, according to Radar Online, which reported that she [...]

  • Clint Eastwood and Alison Eastwood'The Mule'

    Clint Eastwood: Why Alison Eastwood Came Out of Acting Retirement for Her Dad

    Clint Eastwood’s daughter Alison Eastwood was done with acting after appearing in 2014’s “Finding Harmony.” Or so she thought. More Reviews Broadway Review: 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Film Review: 'Dead Women Walking' It was a Friday night and she and her husband were heading to dinner when her father’s producer Sam Moore called. “He [says], [...]

  • 'Dead Women Walking' Review: Uncompromising, Powerful

    Film Review: 'Dead Women Walking'

    The sober and gripping “Dead Women Walking” focuses on the final days of a series of female inmates facing the death sentence. Divided into nine chapters, each inching its way inexorably closer to the moment of execution, the drama turns the fragmentation of its approach to a powerful advantage. Not only do the individual stories [...]

  • Sam Mendes

    Sam Mendes' World War I Drama '1917' Set for Awards-Season Launch on Christmas 2019

    Universal Pictures has given an awards-season release date of Dec. 25, 2019, to Sam Mendes’ World War I drama “1971.” Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners is producing “1917” through its DreamWorks Pictures brand. “1917” will open in limited release on Christmas Day then go wide two weeks later on Jan. 10, 2020. More Reviews Broadway Review: [...]

  • Ventana Sur Queer Latin Film Panel

    Ventana Sur: Panel Talks Merits, Setbacks in Latin Queer Cinema

    BUENOS AIRES — Four venerable professionals from the cinema world joined on Monday evening for Queer Cinema In Latin America, a frank discussion on Latin America’s role within the queer filmscape for Ventana Sur’s Industry conference series held at the UCA campus in Buenos Aires. Touching on advancements in character arc and notable achievements in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content