The Giant review: A Scandinavian oddity that is genre-less – an exceptional piece of original filmmaking from Johannes Nyholm.
The Giant review by Paul Heath, LFF 2016.
Arriving from the shores of Sweden comes this very oddly-plotted film which plays as part fantasy, part drama and part sports movie.
Essentially what all the story together are two things – a 30-year-old man named Rikard who was born with sever facial and body abnormalities and the sport of petanque – which is a bit like boules. Rikard is constantly teased for the way he looks – everything from ‘Jabba The Hutt’ to ‘The Elephant Man’ are taunted at him throughout, and he’s as equally tortured by the loss of his mother – from whom he was separated from at birth. He longs to be united with, and has got into his head that he will be if he is able to with the Scandinavian Championship trophy in his beloved sport. His mother, meanwhile, is secluded in what appears to be sheltered housing, her only company some of her son’s petanque trophies, an accordion and a cockatoo. Intent with getting to the championship finals, Rikard overcomes every obstacle, helped along the way by a mysterious 50-foot giant which bears more than a resemblance to himself. What follows is an inspiring, sometimes difficult watch of following your dreams, hanging on to what you love and the value of friendship.
Director/ screenwriter Johannes Nyholm has skilfully crafted a wonderfully tale that more than reminds one of the other great TIFF and LFF epic A Monster Calls (for obvious reasons), but Nyholm’s film is wholly original and both wonderfully told and acted. Particular stand-outs are Christian Andren and Johan Kylen who play Rikard and Roland respectively. Their on-screen relationship and chemistry, so essential to the story, is nigh-on flawless – both heartfelt and emotive in every scene they share.
A film that blurs the lines of documentary and drama, The Giant defies categorisation; it’s just a wonderful, really well-told film, only slightly let down by its rather sketchy final scenes at the championship involving Rikard and the lack of development with some of the minor characters – particularly Rikard’s mother.
That said, The Giant was a huge surprise; an emotion-charged, very watchable, real, though fantastically fantastical feature that screams of optimism and hope.
The Giant review by Paul Heath, October 2016.
The Giant plays as part of the BFI London Film Festival 2016.