Belgian painter, then actor, now director Bouli Lanners brings to the screen Les Géants, a convalescent journey of three boys left abandoned in the Belgian countryside.
Brothers Seth (Martin Nissen) and Zak (Zacharie Chasseriaud) are left in their deceased grandpa’s house for the summer by their absentee mother, whose only presence comes from Zak’s mobile phone.
The narrative is a somewhat crossover of Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills, and Mark Twain’s classic Huckleberry Finn. Along with their rogue friend Danny (Paul Bartel), the brothers rove around joy-riding, boating and traipsing through the country.
The introduction of Danny’s violent, bedraggled, drug-tired brother, and his drug dealer, Beef, add a needed edge to the narrative. The boys eventually agree to sell the house to Beef – an unthought through decision which results in vague violence and no useful outcome. What this does lead to, however, is a needed variation in character, and by avoiding the trap of over-exaggeration of character archetypes, Lanners creates space for some high quality performances.
Though what really gives Les Géants its flourish are the landscape shots and immense cinematography, which are well accompanied by a folksy soundtrack from the Bony King of Nowhere. Along with the saturated colours and high visibility of luminescent greens, almost every scene is a marvel of childhood fantasy.
With tracks, paths, and dusty roads, Les Géants has all the potential for a road movie, but no actual movement. Instead, it is the tale of the three boys’ coming of age as they come to terms with the injustices of the world around them.
The Giants (Les Géants), dir. Bouli Lanners (2011, Luxembourg)