Among Giants

"Good"

Among Giants Review


One of those struggling-class, slice-of-life, gray comedies that the Englishseem to be cranking out at a rate of six or seven a year lately, "AmongGiants" has the significant advantage of having been written by SimonBeufoy, who penned >"The Full Monty," this genre's biggest hit.

It also boasts a pair of engrossingly honest, emotionallyraw but reserved performances by Pete Postlethwaite ("Romeo+ Juliet" and the similarly themed "BrassedOff") and Rachel Griffiths ("Hilary and Jackie"), starring as the foreman of a handyman crew and the backpackingnomad whose feelings for him have her thinking about staying put for thefirst time in her life.

But there's one big problem with "Among Giants"-- a third, ostensibly central character seems to have been promoted fromsupporting role status without any thought to fleshing him out to justifyhis extra screen time.

The character is Steven (James Thornton), one of Postlethwaite'sruddy English day laborers, who have been hired to paint 15 miles of powertowers in three months for 90 quid a day -- the steadiest work any of themhave had in ages.

In the beginning, Steven figures to be important to theplot somehow -- perhaps as a corner of a love triangle. But after an earlyscene in which he goes out of his way to impress Griffiths' pretty, self-reliantAustralian adventurer (by scaling the walls of a pub to show off his rockclimbing skills), he becomes this rudderless, sullen malcontent, so vaguelydrawn that his motives, desires and relationships muddy at best.

The character's near-uselessness is maddeningly distractingin what is otherwise a exemplary sample of simple yet delightfully stimulating,and uniquely British, storytelling.

Centering the action around the grubby crew's race to finishtheir job on time, first-time director Sam Miller infuses the story withan understated sense of humor and makes cinematic use of the utility towersas a backdrop for the heart of the film -- the fervent but ultimately laboriousrelationship between romantically doleful Ray (Postlethwaite) and stubbornlyindependent Gerry (Griffiths).

When Miller stays focused on the romantic tension and emotionalbaggage between these restless lovers, "Among Giants" shines.Postlethwaite's expressively chiseled face that cracks into a kind andblinding smile makes him an uncommon choice for a romantic lead, but hisdeep sincerity and infectious charm are understandably seductive to Gerry.(Although Postlethwaite's best scene is a visit to his ex-wife, thick withresentment and animosity.)

Griffiths keeps pace, playing the struggle between herheart and her intrinsic wanderlust subtly at first, but Gerry graduallybegins to sabotage herself over her fear of settling down.

Ribald but good-natured ribbing is the hallmark of thescenes with the painting crew -- of which Gerry becomes a member, to theinitial chagrin of Ray's beer-swilling, butt-scratching bunch -- and thesescenes counter-balance the movie's heavier emotional elements.

I found myself quite invested in "Among Giants."Although it is not as riotous as "Monty," its intimacy and characteristicallygruff laughs make it a similarly astute observation of the English factorytown working-class.

If only it were easier to ignore the ambiguous, underdevelopedSteven. It's hard to focus on the engaging performances of Griffiths andPostlethwaite when part of your mind is busy trying to figure out what,exactly, the guy is doing there. Is he is Ray's friend or a relative? Ishe falling for Gerry, too?

I really enjoyed this movie, but if these questions weremore readily resolved, I would have liked it better.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 1st April 1999

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Arts Council of England, British Screen Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 5.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Raymond 'Ray', as Gerry, as Bob, as Shovel, as Steven 'Steve', Rob Jarvis as Weasel, Alan Williams as Frank

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.