GIANT LITTLE ONES Pays Homage to the Awkward Bumps of Adolescence
Franky Winter (Josh Wiggins) and Ballas Kohl (Darren Mann) have been best friends since childhood. They are high school royalty: handsome, stars of the swim team and popular with girls. They live a perfect teenage life until the night of Franky’s epic 17th birthday party, when Franky and Ballas are involved in an unexpected incident that changes their lives forever. Giant Little Ones is a heartfelt and intimate coming-of-age story about friendship, self-discovery and the power of love without labels.
Directors: Keith Behram
Cast: Josh Wiggins, Darren Mann, Taylor Hickson, Kyle MacLachlan, Maria Bello
Runtime: 93 minutes
“Now pay close attention because this is all going to happen very quickly,” a teacher instructs a class conducting a science experiment. This sets the stage for a whirlwind ride that zooms in on its apt metaphor for sexual exploration. Beginning with a page out of any high school movie scene, the film starts off with Franky’s usual school days. Alongside his childhood best friend Ballas (Darren Mann), Franky (Josh Wiggins) has practically made it in terms of high school popularity. Dashing member of the school’s swim team? You got it. High profile relationship with one of the popular girls? Franky’s the guy.
Then things take a sudden turn for the worse on Franky’s birthday night. After an intoxicating party, his schoolmates start avoiding eye contact with him the next day as rumours start to circulate – that Franky might be gay.
For Franky, it’s easier said than done to just turn up in school and “say ‘Fuck you’ to anyone who says shit”, as his queer friend Mouse (Niamh Wilson) advises. And we know that. We’ve undergone high school. Even without the wild house parties and brazen talks about sex which Giant Little Ones reminsces upon fondly, high school is known as the awkward phase of adolescence life pretty much anywhere in the world. From a furtive glance to a look of understanding, the film plays on silence speaking volumes to represent a relatable period when teens are still figuring out how to communicate. And Giant Little Ones captures truthfully all the embarrassing fumblings and profound pain, especially when your best friend changes overnight into your bully.
Instead of a fast-paced narrative, Giant Little Ones builds itself up to be a slow-boiling bildungsroman, a coming-of-age tale that follows Franky in his emotional highs and lows, his outbursts and his withdrawals. Since the movie deals primarily with internal conflicts, music director Michael Brook’s attentive use of a variety of accompanying tracks, whether diegetic or not, reflects the fluctuating moods of teenagehood and the range of states of mind. While Franky struggles silently, we are able to get an insight into his thoughts as a piercing hum gets louder in the background, impossible to ignore.
The film is determined to encapsulate the wide range of emotions and reactions of teenagers. Giant Little Ones portrays young adults going through this stage of exploration and uncertainty in their lives, scrambling to decipher their self and their sexuality. Coupled with the added pressure of watchful peers, there is no doubt that different people will have different fight-or-flight responses, and Giant Little Ones is careful in representing that.
But in trying to depict such an array, the movie fails to properly address the characters as unique individuals with their own lives. Ballas borders on being the stereotypical nasty jock who is ruthlessly harsh on an ex-friend, and other ‘outlier’ figures have their stories somewhat reduced or brushed over.
Nevertheless, Giant Little Ones pays shrewd attention to the confusing and terrifying aspects of growing up, a period in life when one’s actions may not be completely understandable even to themselves, much less their milieu and the watching audience. As Franky manoeuvres through issues regarding his sexuality and identity, we go through every step with him, taking in all the emotional conflict he experiences. In Franky’s journey towards a better understanding of himself, the film ensures that this story of an individual is as important to tell as any other.
Here’s the trailer:
Giant Little Ones is part of the lineup curated by the Singapore Film Society for Golden Village’s Love & Pride Film Festival 2019. The highly regarded festival will showcase a slew of LGBTQ-focused independent titles connected to with the theme of ‘Sparking Change’. The 11th Love & Pride Film Festival will take place from 10th to 20th October 2019 at GV Suntec City and GV Grand, Great World City, and tickets are already on sale. To find out more about the other film screenings or to get your tickets, visit their website here.