Hamburg, complete with its drab industrial foreshores and sometimes uninviting urban decay, is the setting for Gigantic and is as much as character as the three friends Lloyd, Walter and Rocco. It's no surprise, once we've trawled past the faceless apartment blocks and rusting waterfront sheds, that Lloyd wants out. What is a surprise is that he springs his news on his great friends with no time to prepare them for the shock. He leaves tomorrow, at sunrise.
In spite of their anger, and fear, Walter and Rocco go along with Lloyd's desire to have one great final night together. It begins fervently, excitingly, but as events go awry and daylight slowly inches over the horizon, the crushing reality of what is to follow sets in for the trio, who along the way also pick up their next door neighbour, the gorgeous but self destructive Tesla.
Debut director/writer Sebastian Schipper knows the value of understatement. Instead of stuffing his screenplay full of worthy but dull ruminations on the meaning and importance of friendships, he lets his characters do the talking for him. Boldly, Schipper uses a single, funereal piece of music over and over to signify moments of emotional crisis for his characters. The move is risky but pays dividends - Lloyd, Walter and Rocco don't have to say much to get across what they are really feeling. It's also a testament to the abilities of the actors playing these parts that you feel greatly for their pasts, presents, and especially futures.
The finale of Gigantic is heartbreaking, and deliberately ambiguous. Not only is it the perfect conclusion to the chaotic night before it, which is in itself a metaphor for the inherent turmoil of close friendships, it is enough to make you want to go out and phone every friend you haven't spoken to in years to find out how they are doing. Few films have the ability to move and entertain as well as say something about the pain and joy of simply being alive and knowing other people. Gigantic is one of them. It's a masterpiece.