“Giant Little Ones, ” directed by Keith Behrman and starring Josh Wiggins, Darren Mann and Kyle Maclachlan, is the 2018 Canadian version of “Love Simon,” a coming of age LGBTQIA drama that literally dives into the complex lives of two high school male swimmers. This feature positively brings to light how queerness can heal relationships through empathy. You have to look within yourself to contextualize your own identity if you want to confront homophobia. “Giant Little Ones”is an original film that showcases a fantastic script, beautiful cinematography and complex character development.
The film follows
Franky (Josh Wiggins) and Ballas (Darren Mann), bff swimmers who live in
suburbia and definitely have gay chemistry. Their characters are both closed
off to queerness in their own ways, which is why they both have girlfriends.
After they hookup in the dark twilight after Franky’s 17th birthday, the
homophobia hits the fan. Ironically, Franky’s dad Ray Winter (played by Twin
Peaks’ star Kyle MacLachlan) is recently out as gay. He moved in with his
boyfriend a year prior, which propels Franky’s verbal homophobia. Franky is
closed off, Ballas is lost and angry, and uses his pathological lying
tendencies to propel his own homophobia. He takes vengeance against Franky.
This movie is literally Gay “Mean Girls” meets “American Crime- Season 2”,
which everyone should watch.
Every character is going through something deeply internal in every scene. In particular, when the film calls for comedic-relief, Franky’s friend Mouse, whose pronouns are they/them, played by Niamh Wilson, comes to the rescue. Their performance is one of the most refreshing performances I’ve seen come out of the LGBTQIA indie feature scene. This actor plays an AFAB (assigned female at birth) high schooler who flips the narrative of homophobia and toxic masculinity into a feminist light as they introduce ways of self-expression to Franky. Mouse helps Franky grow into his skin as a queer person. Mouse knows that Franky is a queer person at heart, but wants to show him how queer they are to be able to get through to him. The way Mouse explores their identity to Franky is through packing their pants with socks to make a bulge. Eventually, the scenes turn into Mouse making Franky undress so they can compare sizes. It is so awkward and hilarious, and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s incredible to see young people exploring bodies to help each other discover their identities. “Giant Little Ones” uplifts LGBTQIA voices through quirky, direct experiences and it made me feel so much empathy.
I always look for motifs in film and try to understand what metaphor these motifs allude to. Sometimes the metaphors are more direct than others. Fireworks, or a sparkler gun, are a metaphor in this movie that signifies big shifts to command the complete attention of the character and change them. The gift Ballas surprises Franky with for his birthday is a sparkler gun. They hit the trigger and then hookup. Sparks fly is the direct metaphor here. Second time the trigger is pulled, Ballas is in the pool, his sister Tash is in the kitchen and Franky is on his bike riding down the street. Franky pulls the trigger and releases all of the pent-up pain and loss that he holds onto with Ballas in a nonverbal act of forgiveness. Ballas looks up from the pool and the light reflects pink onto his face. The idea of letting your inhibitions down and releasing your youth for the last time until you have to decide who you are going to identify with, is a refreshing metaphor. The use of the sparkler gun is perfect for the tone of the story. Immediacy, power, control, bright flashes of light and color all drive these dramatic moments of clarity in “Giant Little Ones.”