“Secrets and lies disrupt a superficially idyllic summer holiday for three teenage boys in Canadian director Andrew Cividino’s debut feature Sleeping Giant, an expansion of his prize-winning short of the same name,” begins Leslie Felperin in the Hollywood Reporter. “Set in a heat-hazed resort town on the Ontario shores of Lake Superior, this compelling if somewhat schematically written drama benefits from a strong sense of place, well-directed performances from its young ensemble, and a good ear for the patter of contemporary teen-speak.”
“It is the anti-Stand By Me,” declares Jessica Kiang at the Playlist. “Partly this comes from the age and era of the protagonists, here around 15 and children of the online generation, trading faux-worldly put-downs in a violent, wannabe grown-up lingo of sexual degradation and casual bigotry. There is something heartbreaking and truthful, for these modern times, in watching children parrot the sexist, homophobic slurs they’ve picked up long before they’ve even glancingly experienced any of the acts or attitudes they suggest. In fact the language used throughout Sleeping Giant feels lived-in and authentic: from the would-be cool dad who sneaks his son his first beer and indicates how ‘down with the kids’ he is by twice referencing the Darwin Awards and trying on the word ‘chillaxing’ for size, to the rotten apple Nate, who, amid all his casual profanity, occasionally lashes out at those who ‘anger’ him with vicious, furious, potentially ruinous truths, ‘because it’s fun.'”
“Recalling such recent U.S. independents as The Kings of Summer and Hide Your Smiling Faces,” writes Variety‘s Guy Lodge, “this iridescently shot” film “signposts its increasingly downbeat narrative too liberally to surprise, though a humid hint of homoerotic perspective distinguishes it from others in its amply populated genre…. Boys will be boys, yes, but Cividino doesn’t romanticize them: They can be pretty toxic, too.”
For Screen‘s Tim Grierson, “Sleeping Giant can’t shake conventionality, the characters’ modest tensions predictably ratcheting up to something far more sinister.” This is “a sensitively acted, fairly pedestrian story about fleeting youth and the poignancy of puppy love. Betrayals and dark twists eventually follow, but none of it is particularly surprising. Still, Cividino already has a firm grasp on the marriage between environment and tone. And his young actors deliver loose-limbed performances that feel at least partially improvised without falling into awkward self-indulgence.”
“Sleeping Giant is exceptional and affecting, a film both provocative and probing,” finds Jason Gorber at Twitch. “Yes, there are moments that veer towards the predictable, but there’s enough heart and grit in the telling that I found myself swept away anyway.”
For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @KeyframeDaily. Get Keyframe Daily in your inbox by signing in at fandor.com/daily.