Monday, July 13, 2009

Adopting Love A Gigantic Step

Ticket packages for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF.) are now on sale. To purchase passes click here. The full list of films at this year’s TIFF will be available August 25, 2009. Single tickets will go on sale in September.

This was originally posted in my 2008 Toronto Film Festival Recap. The review has been fixed up and re-posted as the film has already been released this year in the U.S. (in April) and the U.K. (in June). There is still no word on whether it will get a theatrical or straight to DVD release up here.


Think only celebrities are obsessed with adopting babies from other countries? Well let me introduce you to Brian Weathersby (Paul Dano), a 28 year-old man who has wanted to adopt a baby from China ever since he was 8 years old. One day while working at a local mattress store Brian meets Harriet (Zooey Deschanel), a woman picking up a mattress purchased by her wealthy father (John Goodman). Brian and Harriet strike up a friendship that ultimately leads to something more. Just as things get moving on the romantic front for Brian news comes that, after several years of trying, his adoption application is finally moving forward. Not only must Brian re-evaluate his priorities, but he must also consider how this new development will affect his relationship with Harriet as well. Harriet already has deep fears in regards to commitment; will the idea of a baby push this young relationship over the edge?

Gigantic ended up being a bit of a puzzler for me. While the film was interesting, I could not help but feel that a something was missing. Gigantic seems to end before it really gets started. All the interesting aspects of Brian and Harriet’s relationship are in the final third of the film. Just as you really start to wonder how things will play out the credits start to role. While the film does a nice job of establishing Brian’s relationships with his family, Harriet, and co-workers; it spends too much time on trying to make Brian seem more complex than he actually is. For example, while I understand the symbolism behind Brian’s violent encounters with a homeless man (The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakis), it gets redundant after a while. As a result of elements likes this, the rest of the cast are pretty much reduced to one-note characters. Characters, such as Goodman’s, end up being quirky for the sake of being quirky.

This even applies to Harriet’s character to a certain extent. She is not the fully developed character she needs to be for this type of film. Harriet’s issues seemed rather tacked on last minute, and come off as quirks rather than something deeper. I would have loved if her character was fleshed out a little more; especially since Dano and Deschanel have nice chemistry together.

Another issue I had with the film was the lack of real dramatic tension in the film. It seems everyone in the film except for Brian was extremely well off financially. Harriet’s father at one point grills Brian about raising a child on a mattress salesman’s salary. Yet you never really get the sense that Brian would be struggling that much anyways. The tight family dynamic between Brian and his family is featured prominently in the film. It is safe to assume his family would have no problem lending him a few bucks if he really needed it.

Writer director Matt Aselton shows a lot of potential as a filmmaker and Gigantic is a decent debut effort. Hopefully he his future works will have more developed characters to ensure that his vision is fully realized. As it stands, Gigantic is a film that will satisfy for a short time, but will ultimately leave you hungry for something more filling.

For more reviews from 2009 click here

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