Friday, 14 October 2011

Les Géants, dir. Bouli Lanners, wr. Elsie Ancion, Bouli Lanners, Matthieu Reynaert, st. Paul Bartel, Zacharie Chasseriaud, Martin Nissen

Les Geants is a softly affecting tale of boyhood abandon both figurative and literal; brothers Seth and Zak have been deserted by their mother - in what way she is afflicted, whether medicated or depressed we never find out - and in this vacuum of parental absence set off on a Twain-esque adventure through rural Belgium. Much like Rob Reiner's 1986 film Stand By Me, its tone meanders from beguiling coming-of-age to darker dramatic territory once the adults appear and, with one beautifully observed exception, proceed to bully and manipulate the boys. It's hard not to feel the whole thing is a little aimless, the film comprising more of individual- albeit wonderfully realised - vignettes rather than chapters marking out pieces of the cohesive whole, but it all builds to a genuinely moving closure culminating in a gloriously graceful glide over the Belgian rivers and woodlands - what looks like a supremely accomplished physical shot no amount of CGI Middle Earth-swooping can match. A brief search on the internet reveals that this is unlikely to see anything other than the thinnest of releases in the UK, but like all cinematic hidden gems, the effort to track it down reaps rich rewards.