Producers: Olmo Schnabel Director: Grear Patterson Screenplay: Grear Patterson Cast: Jack Irving, Ben Irving, Lily Gavin, Amalia Culp, Gabe Fazio, Larry White, Stella Schnabel and Malaki King Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
To say that Grear Patterson’s debut feature is a high-school drama that includes romance, a prom, and a couple of baseball players among its plot elements would be true, but decidedly misleading; it would probably lead one to expect something conventional, perhaps even cloying in CW Network fashion.
But “Giants Being Lonely,” as the rather odd title suggests, is something very different. In terms of narrative it hearkens back to the serious teen pictures of the fifties like “Rebel Without a Cause.” Nicholas Ray’s movie was certainly stylized and Patterson’s is as well, but in an entirely different way, opting for a lyrical, ruminative vive that takes it into Terrence Malick territory.
The two ball players, though played by actual brothers, aren’t in the film. The one is Bobby (Jack Irving), the star pitcher for the Giants, the team that’s the toast of its small southern town. He’s a magnet for every female in sight, including his neighbor Caroline (Lily Gavin), but his home life is not exactly happy. He lives in a miserable shack with his father Tom (Larry White), a sleepy alcoholic who promises to come to his son’s games but never manages to.
Adam (Ben Irving) is the team’s back-up pitcher, and the son of the team’s coach (Gabe Fazio), a fanatic who’s practically psychotic in his berating of the players. And he’s no less despotic at home, where he lords it over Adam and his wife (Amalia Culp), who, like so many women in town, is involved with Bobby. Adam’s also besotted with Caroline, whom he intends to ask to the prom.
In narrative terms, Patterson’s script doesn’t hold together very well. It doesn’t exhibit much concern for logical connections (there’s talk in the last act of a trip to Europe that would conflict with the prom, for example, but nothing much is made of it). And the performances are, to be charitable, not of the first rank. Fazio, for example, is so volcanic that it frequently takes on a vague feeling of parody, and while the Irvings are certainly photogenic (and their similar appearances suggest a “doubling” that remains more elusive than explicit), one could hardly accuse them of James Dean-like charisma. And the ending, set on prom night, is both essentially predictable and garishly overblown.
And yet some episodes—like the game during which Bobby suddenly falls ill, party at a skating rink—have a genuinely tingling undercurrent. And the images are often mesmerizing, with Patterson’s eye for composition matched by Hunter Zimny’s dreamily pellucid cinematography and Ben Morsberger’s moody score, punctuated with pop selections. Audrey Turner’s production design captures the seedily evocative locale, and the costumes by Bruno Dicorcia and Alexandra Imgruth—particularly the boys’ yellow jerseys, which blaze against the darker backgrounds—add a luminous touch, while editor Ismael de Diego contributes to the woozy tempo.
The result is pictorially striking but somewhat anemic from a dramatic standpoint, with an ending that’s especially off-key.