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Giants, The/Les Geants


Stars: Zacharie Chasseriaud, Martin Nissen, Paul Bartel, Karim Leklou, Didier Toupy, Gwen Berrou, Marthe Keller

Director: Bouli Lanners

Writer (with Elisa Ancion) and director Bouli Lanners’ charming (third) feature serendipitously demonstrates there’s more to Belgium than Hercule Poirot – and while there are echoes of Mark Twain in the adventures of its three young protagonists the blend of comedy and drama is sharper, more naturalistic and more credible that, say, the bucolic experiences of Huckleberry Finn.
15-year-old Nissen and his younger brother Chasseriaud end up broke and alone in their grandfather’s rural cottage for the summer holidays, having been abandoned as usual by their mother.

They meet up with local teenage tearaway Bartel who, beaten and abused by his brother, is happy to join them in a series of credibly motivated adventures that begin with Nissen and Chasseriaud renting out the cottage to a local criminal and drug dealer, only to be ripped off and left to fend for themselves for food and shelter…

The storyline is simple and direct and fortunately Lanners does not settle for easy answers or Hollywood-style slush. In particular, he avoids sabotaging his film by offering a happy ending to engage moviegoers. The climax, when it comes, is believable and unexpectedly moving.

The youngsters, attractively acted by Nissen, Chasseriaud and Bartel, are credible teenage delinquents who smoke joints, swear copiously and talk dirty in the true manner of teenagers everywhere. Praise, too, is due to cinematographer Jean-Paul De Zaeytijd whose widescreen vistas of the sunny countryside attractively frame the drama.

Alan Frank

Belgium/France/Luxembourg 2011. UK Distributor: Artificial Eye. Colour.
83 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 13 Jul 2012