Giants Being Lonely, 2021.
Directed by Grear Patterson.
Starring Jack Irving, Ben Irving, Lily Gavin, Amalia Culp, Gabe Fazio, Alejandro Castro, Larry Miller, and Stella Schnabel.
A pair of players on a successful high school baseball team, the Giants, come of age in the American South.
In concept, everything about Giants Being Lonely draws me in; it’s about people from different backgrounds (mostly poverty) with all sorts of rough edges (there is everything from teenage substance abuse to taboo affairs here), it’s a coming-of-age story that doesn’t water down the harshness of the real world, and it’s even grounded in the sport of baseball. Not major leagues mind you, but high school baseball with enough effective scenes showcasing the excitement of the game and the drive of its ambitious small-town players.
It’s hard to imagine making a terrible movie out of any of this, let alone the boring one that mixed media artist turned debut filmmaker Grear Patterson has made, opting for a series of aimless scenes prioritizing mopey moods and admittedly beautiful rural backdrops with next to no forward plot momentum. Character development is relegated to actors conveying everything through body language and emotion, which is fine, but not nearly enough given some of the narrative turns Giants Being Lonely takes. In particular, the closing shot is an unearned baffling choice that comes across as poor shock value rather than any kind of artistic or character statement.
Aspects of Giants Being Lonely crash and burn from the beginning, as the star pitcher of this high school baseball team Bobby and teammate Adam (who also happens to be the son of the hotheaded and foul-mouthed coach who nonetheless cares about winning even if his motivational methods are questionable) are the stars here, unrelated in the story yet played by real-life brothers Jack and Ben Irving. I get it; it’s a small independent film, there are budget constraints, and you cast whoever you can. The issue comes when 20 minutes (keep in mind the film is only 75 minutes without ending credits) are spent unsure of who is who, which becomes doubly frustrating given that there is a minimalistic script here to make sense of what’s actually happening.
Of what can be deciphered, the talent in front of the camera is actually quite good at trying to give the muted material a sense of aliveness. There is a love triangle with both of them pursuing fellow classmate Caroline (Lily Gavin), who does reciprocate both of their feelings. It’s also not much of a character arc and reduces her to an object of affection, but it’s something. However, the best scenes involve these boys struggling with domestic abuse and a cliché but an authentic approach to drinking and drugs. Jack Irving makes an impression in one sequence that sees him standing up to and defying his alcoholic father.
It’s a mystery why Grear Patterson is so content with silence and facial expressions considering, for one it’s not enough, and also that for an amateurish cast, then make the few exciting moments pop with realism. Naturally, it’s in those moments you see what Giants Being Lonely could have been. The script piles on to these characters, jumping the shark into absurdism. It’s an exercise an atmosphere with ultimately hollow characterization and a laughable ending that seems ripped from a different movie altogether. Nevertheless, it is more than competently directed so intrigue remains on Grear Patterson as a filmmaker.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com