Grear Patterson’s debut leaves much to be desired in the portrayal of adolescence and budding identity.
Set amidst the waning adolescence of two baseball players, Grear Patterson’s feature debut Giants Being Lonely emulates its teenage protagonists in the worst way — it seems to have no real grasp of its identity. The film ostensibly follows three characters, Bobby, Adam, and Caroline, as they try to figure out who they are while navigating high school. With only the barest hint of a plot until its final five minutes, Giants Being Lonely makes a valiant effort to survive on atmosphere alone, and this is indeed its strongest point. There are occasional hints of some greater potential in the film’s visuals, with Patterson’s hazy aesthetics casting a melancholy tone in even the brightest of summer days. But despite occasional camera intrustions, which are most obvious in uncomfortable, sometimes nonsensical close-ups, the film remains visually stunning — Patterson devotes a not-insignificant amount of his 80-minute runtime to characters simply wandering, from one place to another, one experience to the next, often dwarfed by their surroundings, never quite at ease in any environment. This results in some excellent nature compositions and a feeling of nostalgia-in-process, the impression that these halcyon days are being experienced and memorialized at the same time.
The unfortunate problem, then, is that Giants Being Lonely does a brilliant job of conjuring an atmosphere and not much else. Nearly every other decision that Patterson, who both directed and wrote the movie, makes is nothing short of baffling. As written, two of his leads are a pair of barely distinguishable baseball players, and, for some reason, he exacerbates this indiscernibility between them by casting actual brothers. Meanwhile, his third lead is a neglected love interest whose entire personality can mostly be summed up as “girl.” These blank-canvas characters might have been better served by different actors, but Patterson’s cast of amateurs simply aren’t up to the task of elevating the already-weak source material they have to work with; whether they struggled to make do with a meager script, or if the script was slashed to keep them from having to talk too much is unclear. And while their awkwardness does at times give the impression of authenticity, it’s so entirely devoid of charisma that it becomes painful to watch. Add to all that Giants Being Lonely’s completely incongruous ending, and you’re left with a film that has some promise, but which ultimately suffers the same identity crisis as its characters, and will probably leave audiences feeling just as confused.
Published as part of Before We Vanish | April 2021.