Over the course of an emotionally tumultuous summer, deep in Ontario’s cottage country, a trio of teenage boys hang out constantly, but unease is quickly building. They’ll go skateboarding and cliff diving, and they’ll drink, smoke some weed and set off fireworks with little regard for their safety, but eventually their personality differences cause major rifts.
Adam (Jackson Martin) comes from a well-off family, but his world is thrown out of alignment by the revelation that his dad is cheating on his mom and by the arrival of a girl he has a crush on. Nate (Nick Serino) is a troubled townie living with his grandmother, constantly ribbing his friends in the meanest possible ways, not caring what anyone thinks of him. The sweet natured Riley (Reece Moffett) has come to stay with cousin Nate following a family tragedy, and he’s torn between wanting Adam’s seemingly idyllic life, Nate’s devil-may-care attitude and being his own person.
Sleeping Giant extends Canadian director/co-writer Andrew Cividino’s 2014 attention getting short of the same name into an even better full-length film. The feature is a near-perfect depiction of the most awkward part of adolescence: the point where you realize your friends can betray and let you down. It’s a rigorous and involving observation of friendships made of convenience. There’s a definite sense that Adam, Nate and Riley would never be friends in a larger community, but in a smaller area with less to do, they have little choice.
The three leads all give fully realized and shockingly mature performances. While the first half of the film sets up the teens painstakingly as individuals and a unit, the second half employs a number of shocking, necessary and earned twists that make the final product into exactly what the title promises.