I’ve always been uncomfortable with the rigid boundaries and very narrow definitions of what it means to be a man, and where sexuality can be experienced and expressed. ~ Keith Behrman
Something happened at Franky’s 17th birthday party. Now his best friend, Ballas, hates him and half the school thinks he’s gay. What happened? Is Franky gay? Straight? Bi? Giant Little Ones argues that it shouldn’t matter, and that no one should be forced to choose a label.
Writer/Director Keith Behrman attempts to tell a fresh story with familiar ingredients. It’s not a coming out story or a romance. We’re in the nebulous genre of the coming of age film. After Franky is “outed” he loses his social circle and has to rebuild. Actor Josh Wiggins carries the picture as the vulnerable Franky. He keeps his cards close to his chest and ignores the advice of well meaning adults. The anxious soundtrack and his open face tell us things he can’t articulate. When moments of compassion or cruelty burst through he commands your attention. It’s a terrific performance.
The large cast of teens and parents seem familiar types, but most are fighting against labels of their own. Each makes an impression, though the screenplay only has time to flesh out a few. Franky’s estranged father (Kyle MacLachlan) and two fellow teen outcasts (Taylor Hickson and Niamh Wilson) are stand outs. Actor Darren Mann has less success with the friend-turned-foe Ballas. His glowering stares and Abercrombie looks make him a budding Patrick Bateman. His villainous behavior feels lifted out of a noisier movie and distracts from the pensive story Behrman is trying to tell.
I’d recommend the film but you should know you’re not getting a Love, Simon or Beautiful Thing. Behrman is telling a story about ambiguity. About people who aren’t sure who they are or what they want. Fortunately he’s got a fantastic leading actor to guide us along the way.
Giant Little Ones premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. It plays in select theaters this month and premiers on itunes on June 15, 2019. You can read How To Get Away With Mordor’s review here. For more reviews of LGBT+ media click here.
Is what happened at the party a spoiler?
Kind of. The extended trailer, and some reviews, discuss it up front but it isn’t revealed till midway through the film.
Just tell me what happened at the party.
Ballas gave Franky a drunken blow job. Then told his peers that Franky had molested him in his sleep.
How “gay” is the film?
The three out characters are a gay teen who gets bullied, a ambiguously trans teen who cracks jokes and a gay adult who offers wisdom. We see two m/f love scenes but same sex intimacy is kept off screen.
Ballas and Franky remain undeclared. If you read Ballas as gay, his predatory behavior fits an unfortunate stereotype.
A pet peeve: In a film about sexual ambiguity the word bisexuality is never spoken.
What trigger warnings apply to this film?
Underage drinking, homophobic slurs, a false accusation of sexual assault, a monologue from a survivor of an actual sexual assault, and two scenes of Franky being beaten up by bullies.
The legal consequences of the sexual and physical assaults are never discussed.
The ambiguously trans character asks to touch Frankie’s penis in a “comedy” scene that read to me as sexual harassment.
Have you seen Giant Little Ones? Share your (spoiler tagged) thoughts in the comments below!