GIANTS BEING LONELY -- A Gritty Portrayal of a Baseball Team in Small-Town America
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Every once in a while, there comes a film that breaks the mold of its genre. A film that blazes its path despite the preconceived notions of what it should be. It's a rare thing these days to find a film like this. Giants Being Lonely is such a film. At first glance, it might seem like it's just a film about baseball, but it's about a lot more than that.
Even though the main theme this film focuses on is baseball, the characters that are portrayed in it are the best part about it. This isn't your everyday sports film. It has subject matter not fit for most people. That's a good thing because it makes for a realistic portrayal of these people's lives. Not since Raging Bull have I seen a film about sports and the people surrounding said sport this graphic and raw.
The film stars unknown actors as players of a small-town baseball team, their friends, parents, coaches, and a baseball scout. They all do things that seem normal to the average eye but are far from normal in a movie. These things are real to society though. They all get involved in questionable behavior. That's the difference between this film and others like it: how the director chooses to portray the everyday small-town life they all live in.
The pressures of being an athlete in a small town in America can be massive to a teenager. Trying to live up to the expectations of your parents, teachers, and friends isn't easy, especially when you're a star like the two lead boys played by Jack and Ben Irving. Having been around athletes my whole life, I can say this is the best example of how the pressures can get to a kid. For various reasons, not everybody succeeds in their given sport.
From the perspective of adults, it's a similar experience. A wife can get lost in the shadow of a husband that focuses all his time on the team he's coaching. She can get lonely. That's not good for the relationship. These issues cause problems. The opposite happens for a father or mother that coaches a child and or a team. He or she is trying to drive that child to succeed that he or she doesn't see the tragic effect they have on them.
Having come from an abusive household myself, the parents portrayed in this film are very grounded in a way that is rarely seen in movies these days. Sure the occasional La'Vona Golden from I, Tonya or Mary from Precious comes to mind. The most obvious person in a film that is similar to the father in this film is Charles Billingsley portrayed by Tim McGraw in Friday Night Lights. He is as overbearing as it gets for a parent in sports films.
This film has a feeling of films such as The Rider or Nomadland from Chloe Zhao. It's grounded in reality while also having a scripted storyline. Grear Patterson wrote and directed this film. He imbued it with a rare ability that hardly is seen in films these days. This style of the film is so breathtaking to see. With so many films that are cookie-cutter copies of one another, it's great to see something real and raw.
The closest example that I can think of that resembles Giants Being Lonely is Euphoria on HBO. They both have a realistic and raw feeling to them that makes them so rare these days. The visceral nature of both is what makes them so good. Yes, graphic violence has been seen in horror movies for years, but not much in domestic films about everyday life. This film is the rare occasion where a rough domestic life is brought to light so perfectly.
Giants Being Lonely hits VOD on April 6.
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