Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Giant: Movie Review

A lot of atmosphere, no story.

There feels like there must be a good movie in The Giant somewhere, but good luck finding it in between the blurry shots of street lights, close-ups of her hair and eyeball, and long tracking shots of… the moon. Yes, that’s right, the good cinematography was spent on an astronomical body which cannot emote emotion and plays no role in the movie.   2019

Directed by: David Raboy

Screenplay by: David Raboy

Starring: Odessa Young, Ben Schnetzer

It is also literally difficult to see if there’s a good movie in here. It is a very darkly lit film. Every scene takes place at night, mostly in a car with no street lights, occasionally at a lake with no street lights, and sometimes in a house with no lights on, and very rarely on a house porch where there is in fact one porch light. It is so frustrating because I’m pretty sure Odessa Young, Ben Schnetzer and Jack Kilmer all do good work, but you can barely see them.

I love the idea behind the movie. Charlotte (Odessa Young)’s boyfriend mysteriously vanished from town a year ago. Now there are a brutal series of murders and the boyfriend suddenly reappears. Unfortunately, that doesn’t form a story. That’s just an idea, or a theme, that forms an atmosphere. The Giant is primarily just atmosphere. Dark, brooding, slow atmosphere which you desperately hope forms a more coherent story long before it actually does.

The atmosphere guides Charlotte’s increasing state of concern. There is no thriller or mystery to solve, it’s just close-up body shots of a young, depressed woman who is equal parts scared and guarded. I would love to give Odessa Young praise for this role, but you barely see her. You see her hair or her knee more often than you see her face.

Charlotte is also simultaneously struggling with nightmares and memories of her mother who committed suicide. The movie is just begging for a story, but all we get is more atmosphere. The most frustrating part of that is Joe (Ben Schnetzer)’s return. Apparently his disappearance was mostly just occasional gossip among students. "Hey have you heard from Joe?” “No, I haven’t, have you?” “No, nothing.”

The town in general didn’t seem to care that a human being was missing, it was just a point of conversation among his friends and girlfriend. I feel there should be a story there, not just a shrug of indifference. The murders are treated somewhat similarly. Our lead characters hear screams in the distance, but only Charlotte seems concerned, the others shrug it off as animals (apparently they think foxes mimic a teenage girl screaming in fear). And then when the murders are discovered, there’s still just a shrug of indifference.

I was more bothered than the townspeople in the movie, but I was more frustrated that it all just builds to atmosphere and no actual story.