Sleeping Giant

(2016)

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Title:
Sleeping Giant
Release Date:
17th February 2016
Runtime:
89 min
MPAA Rating:
14A
Genres:
Directors:
Andrew Cividino
Writers:
Aaron Yeger, Andrew Cividino
Languages:
English
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

The Hudsons - husband and wife William and Linda, and their fifteen year old son Adam - are spending the summer, like they have the several recent past summers, at their cottage on the northwestern shore of Lake Superior. William and Linda are still trying to perpetuate them being the perfect family, which they have been able to do as Adam is still closer emotionally to childhood than he is to adulthood and still largely follows parental rules. However, William wants to be both Adam's father and best friend as he is encouraging Adam to pursue Taylor, a similarly aged girl Adam has known forever at the lake. Adam doesn't want to admit to anyone that he does like Taylor in that way, he justifying his non-action by not wanting to ruin their friendship. This summer for the first time, Adam hangs out with cousins Riley and Nate, who are a little rougher around the edges than him. They are spending the summer with their permissive grandmother, Riley living with her permanently since the death of his parents. Riley and Nate's relationship is characterized by roughhousing, smoking (both cigarettes and weed), petty theft, hazing type rituals such as vandalism, and oneupmanship in the form of dares in feats of what they see as masculinity. Adam gets caught up in their life, with William's blessing in wanting again to act the friend, although Adam does consider Riley a true friend, the more sensitive one, as opposed to Nate who is all teen bravado. Adam has reason to be drawn more to the cousins than to his parents this summer, in him discovering that his family is less than perfect. However, as Adam tries to be who everyone wants him to be, he may have to grow up quickly without that true responsible guidance to show him the way.

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 90%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 87%
IMDb Rating 6.9

Casts

Erika Brodzky as Marianne
Jackson Martin as Adam Hudson
Nick Serino as Nate
Reece Moffett as Riley

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by vegicat 21st July, 2016

Thoughtfully told story

This movies isn't so much a "coming of age" story as it is a glimpse into the cause and effect of various character's actions and emotions. The movie is filmed beautifully. Something about the way it was filmed almost felt voyeur-like. It's a slow telling -- people looking for action, adventure or intense drama aren't going to enjoy it. For the most part, the teens convey a believable apathy, and the angst that is presumably just under the surface stays there under a veil of boredom and is just alluded to by the cinematography. The teen characters are solid. They perfectly embody the flippant and nonchalant attitude of that age group. Their conversations and interactions were natural, and thankfully, none of them were precocious, precious or inherently bad. All in all, it was a very languid telling of minor actions and their major consequences.

Reviewed by Howard Schumann 21st July, 2016

An expression of growing up in all its reality and in all its cruelty

There are more coming-of-age films than masterpieces in the Louvre, but there are only a handful of them that have stood the test of time. First-time Canadian director Andrew Cividino's Sleeping Giant, an update of the short that won the youth jury prize at Locarno last year, may just join this select group. Winner of the award for Best Canadian First Feature Film at the Toronto Film Festival, it is the story of three very different teenage boys during a summer vacation in Northern Ontario. It is not a comedy about lovable misfits such as "Kings of Summer," but an expression of growing up in all its reality and in all its cruelty. The film is set in the rugged area around Lake Superior close to lush forests and breathtaking mountain ranges, beautifully photographed by cinematographer James Klopko. The title refers to the huge rock formation near Thunder Bay known as Todd's Cliff which was named after the individual who survived the 100-foot drop. The title, however, can also apply to the anger building in 15-year-old Adam (Jackson Martin), a sensitive, slightly effeminate boy with a shaky self image. Adam, who does not seem to have an offensive bone in his body, is the odd man out in his collection of friends which includes cousins Nate (Nick Servino) and Riley (Reece Moffett). The boys are staying with their Grandmother (Rita Serino) but would not look out of place in a juvenile detention facility. They are tough, sarcastic, and funny, but troubled people who often seem numb to human emotion. Though the three live in different social and economic worlds, Adam seems content just to be included and his eyes seem to fix on Riley, an abrasive but still saner version of his noxious cousin Nate. During a wrestling contest on the beach, a bloodied Adam hits his head on a rock but all Riley can say is "Stop being a pussy." Adam has come up to Thunder Bay with his well off parents, his mom and pseudo-hipster dad William (David Disher, "My Father and the Man in Black") who knows all the right words to ingratiate himself with the teenagers. When William invites Riley for dinner, Nate has a ton of nasty and sarcastic things to say about parents, suggesting the reason why the boys are staying with their Grandmother. Riley is not adverse to stirring the pot either and, when he happens to glimpse Adam's dad making out with Marianne, (Erika Brodzky) a local fish market owner, he spills the beans to Adam who takes it very hard. The normally placid boy begins spying on the woman, and his personality takes on a harder edge as he joins the others in getting high and robbing a liquor store. Tension, jealousy, and confusion arise between the three boys, however, as Adam and Riley both set their sights on a local girl named Taylor (Katelyn McKerracher), though for Adam she is "just a friend." Though much of time is spent with innocent pleasures such as playing board games, walking in the woods, jumping into the water from rocks, or wrestling, there is a sense of foreboding hanging over the film that shifts the mood quickly. This happens when the fun of playing a board game triggers a bloody brawl between Nate and Riley and when a summer afternoon outing is darkened by the smashing of the carcass of a dead bird. It is only when the boys succumb to peer pressure and attempt to prove their manhood that things get so far out of hand that there is no back to turn to. Unlike films with similar themes in which adults look back at their youth with nostalgia, in Sleeping Giant there is no looking back, only the immediacy and visceral impact of a powerfully real experience. Backed by the indie-rock sounds of Toronto-based Bruce Peninsula and an original score by Chris Thornborrow, brilliant performances by the three young men fully capture the lived-in quality of people coming-of-age right before our eyes. It is a film that feels as if you are watching it in real time and when the realization that our lives can change in an instant hits you in the gut, you wish it was just a movie rather than a familiar experience.