Sleeping Giant's big impact

Summer comes early with this Canadian stunner.

The debut feature from the writer-director Andrew Cividino brings an early summer to this struggling spring in the form of Sleeping Giant, a coming-of-age story set in a Canadian cottage town. Sweet, sensitive Adam (Jackson Martin) nurses a secret crush on his friend Riley (Reece Moffett) as he tries to deal with his dad’s infidelity, while motormouth Nate (Nick Serino) keeps a running commentary on the action. The boys wander the shore, get high, play Catan, steal beer, hit things with sticks and kiss girls in arcades, the kind of largely aimless activities summer offers exclusively to 15-year-olds. More in line aesthetically with 2013’s Kings of Summer than Cividino’s original inspiration, Dazed and Confused, it evokes both those films’ feeling of masculine camaraderie hiding real feelings. Wonderfully shot with a mix of Friday Night Lights-style hand-held and beautiful static masters by James Klopko, who catches every sun-dappled landscape and treeline on offer, Cividino lets his young actors—who actually sound like kids—swear at and wrestle with and josh each other with seemingly little regard for the camera, which gives the film even more of a documentary feel. It also allows its curveball of a climax, telegraphed from the opening minutes, to hit you even harder.

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