Teenaged Boys, Close Up

Patty Osborne

For a close-up look at teenaged boy culture, check out the Canadian film, Sleeping Giant (directed by Andrew Cividino and written by Cividino, Blain Watters and Aaron Yeger). Sleeping Giant follows three teenaged boys as they hang around together in cottage country, on the edge of Lake Superior. The boys bike all over the place, shoot golf balls into the lake, throw eggs at houses, shoplift from the corner store and generally hang out on the edge of trouble. Adam is an only child who is staying with his parents in their roomy, modern cottage and Nate and Riley are cousins who, due to some sort of parental problems, are staying with their grandmother in her tiny cottage. The boys are all knees and elbows, crooked teeth (except for Adam) and permanent hat hair, and they’re at the mercy of their hormones and their big mouths. Nate is a bundle of raw emotions, which he expresses through aggressive language and risky behaviour, and it is he who can see the disparities between his life and that of the happy families that laugh and cheer during the egg-and-spoon races at the community sports day. Riley is more even-tempered and is interested in how Adam’s family lives, but wants to remain loyal to Nate, and Adam is a naive city boy who watches and then mimics his new friends. The boys’ interactions are a combination of playfulness, insults, semi-serious wrestling and daring each other to do stupid or dangerous things. Right from the start, when we see Nate alone in Adam’s cottage, wandering around and just looking at things, we can feel how close he is to doing something impulsive and possibly destructive, and this feeling stays with us as we see the boys manipulate each other through lies and exaggeration until something really bad happens and everyone, including the audience, wishes they didn’t have to learn that lesson the hard way. The three young actors seem so natural that they don’t appear to be acting at all, the dialogue is spare and concise, the understated soundtrack is mostly sounds from nature and the scenery is breathtaking. You can watch this great movie on Netflix.

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