The Giant is an imaginative “human interest” story, something expected to feature in a local newscast’s warm and fuzzy “and finally…” section. It is also a well-trodden – and sweetly simple – underdog story.
The autistic and deformed Rikard (Andrén), separated from his unstable mother at birth, has one passion in his life – pétanque (a game similar to boules). He becomes convinced that they will be reunited if he wins at the Scandinavian Championship – despite his physical and mental fragility and the narrow-minded, and sometimes downright vicious, bullying his condition invariably attracts. One of the hardest scenes to watch is harrowingly plausible as Rikard is taunted at the train station, the perpetrators all too familiar with the idea of filming it on a phone. The one friend that Rikard can rely on is Roland (Kylén), who rescues him here and provides the one truthfully outraged voice in the film – it is the two of them against the world, in more ways than one.
Aside from his sometimes bleak existence, however, Rikard has an unconquerable 200ft giant in his mind’s eye, protecting him and rescuing his mother. This giant inspires an epic Western-style soundtrack, adding a lovely touch of personality to the soundtrack and a nicely off-kilter complement to the smaller-scale story.
The film as a whole, however, gets bogged down. Thinly-stretched material results in lulls in the plot where energy drops and scenes lose focus – although the end is a gut-punch that will leave you reeling.
Sometimes one man’s goal seems as impossible as a whole nation’s. The Giant contrasts the epic and the mundane poignantly, suggesting one is no less achievable than the other. It may intermittently lose its way (and spirit), but who couldn’t appreciate a film about a sport as specific as pétanque?
CAST: Christian Andrén, Johan Kylén, Anna Bjelkerud
DIRECTOR: Johannes Nyholm
WRITER: Johannes Nyholm
SYNOPSIS: Rikard, a man with a 200ft giant for an imaginary friend, sets his mind on becoming the Scandinavian Champion at pétanque, considering it a fix-all for all of the problems in his troubled life.