Click here for the flashback interview with Josh Wiggins for HELLION.
GIANT LITTLE ONES is a perceptive, intelligent examination of what happens when unexpected feelings and actions don’t have neat labels. In a time when acceptance of teenage sexuality, at least straight sexuality, has become the norm for most concerned, both parents and their sexually active kids, the question of sexual fluidity can still flummox.
Case In point, best friends since forever and swim teammates, Franky (Josh Wiggins) and Ballas (Darren Mann), and what happened after a night of hard partying at Franky’s 17th birthday party. The aftermath leaves both young men confused, and Ballas very angry. For Franky’s parents (Kyle MacLachlan, Maria Bello), it forces them to deal with the unresolved issues from their divorce, when he left her for another man, a turn of events that Franky has left Franky resentful of his father’s new life.
Without recourse to those ci-mentioned neat labels, Franky can’t process what happened that fateful night, nor can he deal with Ballas’ increasing hostility towards him that becomes more virulent with each passing day. He finds consolation and perspective from other outliers on the sexual frontier after schoolmates ostracize him. Mouse (Niamh Wilson) the girl who feels better wearing an (ahem) appliance in her pants), tells him to own it, though he’s confused about what it is he’s owning. While Ballas’ sister, Natasha (Taylor Hickson), rekindles their friendship that went by the wayside when she suffered a trauma that leaves them both blindsided, and Natasha coping with the vicious rumors that are now following her. When she’s able to crack jokes about their reputations, it’s an achingly tender moment of small but significant triumph. When Mouse asks Franky questions about the male mystique that she can’t ask anyone else, it’s a sequence that’s raw in its honesty, sweet in its emotional intimacy, and oddly innocent in the way it portrays sexual curiosity. The way it catches that chasm between that curiosity and the innate discomfort of the exchange provides a much needed, and expertly played, comic relief, reinforcing the welcome idea that sex should be fun as well as an expression of emotional connection.
As the story unfolds, the relationships between everyone in the film become as fluid as Franky’s sexual expression, and Franky’s relationship with both parents takes unexpected twists while remaining true to characters that are as expertly acted as they are carefully written. In particular, the emotionally intense, but deceptively quiet talk that Franky has with his father, once he finally opens up about what happened with Ballas, and then summons the courage to ask his father about falling in love with another man.
GIANT LITTLE ONES is a finely observed drama about the infinite capacity of human beings to surprise themselves with the workings of their hearts. It reveals the narrowness, and ultimately, the futility of something as finite labels, and asks us why we would ever need to impose them on ourselves.