Male adolescence isn't always a pretty sight. Sleeping Giant, the debut film from Andrew Cividino, fills the screen with male adolescence.
Taunting, teasing, daring, and plain ol' wrestling occupies the time for cousins Nate and Riley as well as Adam, our protagonist in the story. The male adolescence is set in front of what summer should look like and sound like on the big screen. The film was shot in cottage country in Shuniah and Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Superior.
The male role models in the film don't help these teenagers. Adam's father has a bit of immaturity of his own, even as he tries to be a father figure to Riley. The other male is Brad, who deals them pot and living off the accolades of one very long and dangerous cliff jump.
The women in the film contribute very little. Adam's mother has little to do. Taylor is Adam's platonic friend who is seen more as a sex object by the boys. Her female friend Shauna doesn't speak in the entire film.
But Sleeping Giant isn't about the adults or the women: the film is about these three boys.
The scenes are a bit raw but they need to be to show the rituals of what many young boys go through in figuring out life and their place in it.
This is a film filled with people who are searching for something that they don't have. Adam is seeking peer acceptance and splitting off from the influence of his parents.
The film is based from a short film that starred Nick Serino and Reece Moffett, who play Nate and Riley. Serino and Moffett are cousins in real life. Serino won the Canadian Screen Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Jackson Martin plays Adam. The three of them do very well with scene time that is very demanding.
The pace of the film can be a little slow but that pace reflects the perception of summer of being endless and slow in the moment, especially as a teenager.
Sleeping Giant won the Best Canadian First Feature Award at TIFF 2015 and was also selected as one of Canada's Top Ten films of 2015. The film won 4 Canadian Screen Awards.
Cividino gives us a very powerful film with primary characters that are very real and almost too believable. Raw but you want to know what happens.
Sleeping Giant is currently streaming on Netflix in the United States.
video credit: YouTube/Zurich Film Festival