Connect with us

Disc Reviews

The Giants | DVD Review

Bouli Lanners The Giants DVD CoverPainter/actor/director Bouli Lanners’ third feature, The Giants, which premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, finally gets an understated bow on DVD. Described as a Huckleberry Finn style adventure about three young boys left to their own devices, such lofty literary comparisons unfortunately do Lanners’ film no favors, as this by the numbers escapade doesn’t quite manage to make an impression, despite some pristine cinematography capturing quiet countryside desolation.

Brothers Zak (Zacharie Chasseriaud) and Seth (Martin Nissen) have been abandoned by their mother and are running out of what little money she left behind for them as they stay in their late grandfather’s house in the country. The boys, aged 15 and 13, drive around the countryside, befriending another loner boy, Danny (Paul Bartel), who is often abused physically by his older brother. While Seth retains a cell phone upon which the boys’ mother periodically calls only to cruelly instill in them a sense of hope that she will one day return, the boys are forced to find a creative way to make money, deciding to rent their home out to a local drug dealer, and Danny’s older brother is involved in a scheme that sees them sell all the household belongings, which results in the boys’ being cruelly cast out into the wilderness on their own. Taking to a boat down the river, the boys try to find their own way in the quiet countryside.

Disc Review

Kino Lorber opted not to release The Giants on Blu-ray, which is curious since the picture quality is one of the film’s strongest assets, though perhaps they weren’t predicting a large target audience. Lanners’ well-chosen soundtrack (The Bony King of Nowhere) sounds quiet and melancholic enough to register on. Not surprisingly, there is a lack of special features, the DVD package as bare bones as the narrative.

Final Thoughts

Like a somber and world weary version of something like Stand By Me, or more recently, The Kings of Summer, Lanners’ film isn’t without its own offbeat interest. However, the film feels a bit too meandering and a bit too familiar to remain substantial enough for its eventual comparison to other, similar films. The abandonment or neglect of children is a well-worn cinematic theme, and there are a multitude of recent examples, like Future Weather, or the soon to be released Clio Barnard film, The Selfish Giant, which feels like a more enriching version of The Giants. Jean-Paul de Zaetijd’s landscapes, whether they are arrestingly captured river views or dilapidated junkyards, definitely gives the film an accomplished feel. While the three adolescent actors all feel distinct, each imbued with memorable details such as the younger Seth, who likes to eat spicy food to enhance a masturbation technique, early scenes of bonding revolving around abject gay bashing feels tired and off-putting. Lanners, who many have probably seen in French cinema at some point, proves to be an equally intriguing directorial voice, but The Giants examines well tread territory.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

Click to comment

More in Disc Reviews

To Top