1 item from 1998
Montreal -- "Among Giants" should garner much attention because it is the first effort from screenwriter Simon Beaufoy since the worldwide smash success of "The Full Monty". ("Giants", however, was written much earlier.)
Scheduled for theatrical release via Fox Searchlight in March and showcased recently at the Montreal World Film Festival, "Giants" will not have the same mass appeal as its predecessor, but in many ways it's a deeper, richer film, and it is a rare contemporary love story that works. Featuring superb performances, especially from Pete Postlethwaite in his first romantic role, it is a moving, funny story of people wrestling with the complexities of affairs of the heart.
Postlethwaite plays Ray, foreman of a group of laborers hired to paint miles of electrical towers along the Yorkshire moors. Ray is more than up to the task: In his spare time, he likes to climb the cliffs of Sheffield with his younger, rowdier buddy Steven (James Thornton). The latter is the kind of guy who, when a mountain isn't handy, will literally climb the walls of a local pub.
One day, the pair runs into a beautiful young woman, an Australian climber named Gerry (Rachel Griffiths, from "Muriel's Wedding") who is roaming the countryside toting nothing more than her backpack. Steven immediately makes a play for her, but Gerry seems more intrigued by the stoic Ray. When, in a decision that seems perplexing to the other men, he hires her to join the painting crew, the relationship has an opportunity to blossom.
At first, the two get along famously, with world-weary Ray finding his greatest happiness in years. And Gerry quickly proves herself one of the most valuable, if reckless, members of the work crew. But the affair runs into difficulty: Ray proposes marriage, but the restless, independent Gerry finds it difficult to commit.
Beaufoy's beautifully modulated screenplay explores the complicated emotional dynamics with intelligence and sensitivity, and his characterizations are well-rounded and complex. Director Sam Miller, making an auspicious debut, doesn't shy away from lyricism -- the first kiss between the two lovers is beautifully rendered -- and he depicts the relationship's physical side in a refreshingly frank, honest fashion. There is much nudity on display, including a scene featuring the lovers frolicking through an abandoned silo that is a particularly vivid illustration of Ray's newfound freedom.
The film also displays many examples of the brand of humor we expect from the "Monty" scribe, with a similar emphasis on good-natured camaraderie among co-workers. Although there are no instantly classic scenes a la the impromptu group dance from "Monty", there are many moments -- especially when the co-workers break into group sing-alongs -- that should be real audience-pleasers.
Postlethwaite is superb in the lead role, providing a multifaceted portrayal that represents the most appealing work he has done onscreen. Griffiths is equally captivating, playing a woman whose tomboyish nature doesn't completely hide a smoldering sexuality. Thornton effectively conveys Steven's vulnerability and brashness, and there isn't a false note among the supporting players.
Director: Sam Miller
Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy
Producer: Stephen Garrett
Executive producers: Jana Edelbaum, David M. Thompson,
Jane Barclay, Sharon Harel
Director of photography: Witold Stok
Editors: Elen Pierce Lewis, Paul Green
Music: Tim Atak
Running time -- 93 minutes
MPAA rating: R
1 item from 1998
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