Gigante [2009 Adrian Biniez Film] Review

Gigante DVD cover
AKA: Giant
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Year Released: 2009

Distributor: Film Movement

Origin: Uruguay
Running Time: 88 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+

Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Mall Cop, Shallow Hal, Buddy (Morten Tyldum film), The Rage in Placid Lake

Notes: N/A
Fun Facts:
-Gigante was scored by Austrian composers Harald Kloser and Thomas Wander. The former has worked on the music for The Day After Tomorrow, Alien Vs. Predator, and The Thirteenth Floor. The latter scored The Venice Project, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Midway. Both of them have collaborated together in multiple movies with 10,000 BC, 2012, and Independence Day: Resurgence.

-The movie takes place in Uruguay’s capital and largest city of Montevideo. Over 1.3 million people live in that city and it is the Southernmost national capital city in the Americas.

-Music Fan Bonus: Hey, metalheads! You might like Jara and some of the bands referenced in his presence. He wears a Biohazard shirt multiple times in the film and he has stickers in his room containing Anthrax and Motorhead. Okay, he has a Nirvana sticker, too.

-Julia is played by Leonor Svarcas who has also been in films such as Mr. Kaplan, Southern Stars, and Leo’s Room.


Yes, I get to review a movie from a country I’ve never covered before! I’ve covered a good portion of South America, but not in the country of Uruguay. This was a bit of a fun thing for me because I still remember in my high school days when I did an assignment where we had to pick one country to make a travel guide to. For grins and giggles, I picked Uruguay since I wanted to pick a country I knew no other student would pick. I love geography. Whether it’s learning about other countries, checking out their flags, or researching things about their cultures, I certainly enjoy it. So sue me, I grew up watching Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? when I was knee-high to a globe.

We’ll see how this works when I check out my first Uruguayan movie.

Gigante is about a tall and portly thirty-year-old man named Jara. He lives in a small apartment in Montevideo, loves heavy metal, and mainly works the graveyard shift as a security officer at a local supermarket. Despite his job where he protects assets and is more physically imposing than his co-workers, he’s painfully shy and introverted. Things take a turn when he notices a new cleaning lady named Julia who works at the same supermarket. Jara falls in love with her as he sees her via the security cameras. This crush drives him to try to find out who she is and he tries to follow her around the city. This eventually affects his life with his main job, his second job as a bouncer at a rock venue, and his relationship with his family such as his siblings and nephew. How is Jara going to try and court Julia given his social awkwardness let alone his attempts to find out everything about this mysterious custodian woman who apparently moved from the countryside to the bustling Montevideo?

I know some Mall Cop comparisons are unavoidable given how both movies involve comedies with overweight men with security positions, but I will tell you that the humor isn’t over the top or stupid that that aforementioned movie with Kevin Smith. Moving on, Gigante does have some effort put into it. The cinematography isn’t flashy but isn’t something that’s low budget. The realism does work with the overall feel of the film and subject matter no matter how lighthearted it is. I will admit that Jara had moments of being funny like solving a crossword puzzle like nothing ever happened or just calmly looking at employees throwing stuff at each other with the security cameras. There are times when he is competent at his job by personally going on the sales floor to call out an employee who tried to steal a CD player even though he’s doing it for selfish reasons (he’s within earshot of Julia to convince her not to steal yogurt close to the same time). The music had a way of working with the mood of the film like the metal stuff given Jara’s affinity for that music or the occasional new wave was thrown in that was surprisingly not anachronistic.

Gigante doesn’t always feel like it stands taller than other comedies. Starting with Julia, I feel that she was a plot device. Besides a scene where Jara sees her take a karate class in the distance or with her watching some sci-fi horror film, everything else about her is explained secondhand by co-workers or other people who happen to know about her and it’s never shown through Julia herself. Jara is also part of my issue because his crush on Julia gets to stalker levels not even halfway through the movie. He’s following her around Montevideo including the places where she currently is. It’s one thing being socially awkward, shy, and not being Mr. Casanova, but come on, I know someone like Jara should know better. Things get worse when he does stupid things on the job like tripping a fire alarm as everyone gets wet and beating up another worker after (spoiler alert) several people get fired including Julia which made his character unsympathetic. People have been fired for far less than the fire alarm fiasco which just frustrated me. It really makes Jara look like a manchild of Will Farrell proportions and more immature than intended. The ending is beyond forced given both Jara and Julia’s situations and the happy ending felt very unearned in my book.

Gigante was just an above-average film. I wanted to root for Jara, but it became much harder later on given his actions. I also wished Julia would have more firsthand and onscreen presence to show what her character is about instead of other characters telling the audience what she likes or doesn’t like. The music was certainly serviceable and there was some good comedy, but it wasn’t enough to make me a fan of this film. Gigante could’ve been so much better, but the actions of the characters make me not care as much as it barely qualifies as good for me.


Adjustable Rating System:
Add 1-2 points if you like romantic comedies.
Subtract 1-3 points if you can’t stand characters stalking around.

Pros:
-Nice soundtrack and sound design
-Good cinematography
-Some funny moments here and there

Cons:

-Protagonist-centered morality issues with Jara (totally counts as stalking!)
-Julia is a blank slate and feels like a plot device
-Unintentionally dated elements with the security tapes and PlayStation 3

Final Score: 6/10 points

Content Warning: Gigante is fine for teens and above. There’s some strong language that happens and some violence, but my biggest concern is Jara’s actions with him stalking Julia around without her knowing about it. There’s no other way to describe it and someone would call the cops if they put the two and two together in real life.

-Curtis Monroe

All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Gigante is property of Adrian Biniez and Film Movement. The DVD cover is from IMDb and is property of Film Movement.

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