Gigante (2009)

You know all those artsy films that try to find beauty in mundane life? Gigante is not one of those films. Let’s be honest, sometimes life is mind-numbingly boring, dry and lifeless. So how do you make a film about a grocery store security officer who only works nights interesting and beautiful? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you just stick us in his shoes and follow his odd tale. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe I need to quit rambling on quasi-intelligently in an attempt to introduce this odd film.

So Jara (Horacio Camandule), our security officer, makes a living staring at security monitors and making sure the cleaning staff doesn’t steal stuff. It’s a mindless job but it’s enough for our shy protagonist who’s not much of a talker and seems content doing crossword puzzles and reading books to pass the long hours. But then a member of the cleaning staff, Julia (Leonor Svarcas), catches his eye and an unhealthy obsession starts. Being the shy introverted he is the only thing he knows how to do is watch.

Therefore, the film is a love story about a stalker. Yes. Awkward. I can get the guy idealizing this girl and falling for her but his obsession is creepy and unsettling at times. It’s not like he’s got these grotesque fantasies, in fact, his intentions seem noble, but when he’s using the same chap stick as her the film looses me a bit. Yes, maybe love isn’t the same for everyone but at least it generally involves some kind of face to face relationship.

But maybe that’s the charm of the film. Our protagonist is not some suave charming guy but a large buffoon who doesn’t have the guts to even say two words to the girl he loves. Most guys can relate to this fear and the hesitation to even talk to most women they find attractive. And sure, maybe you watch that one girl from the back of the room or shadow her for as long as your paths are the same. But I guess like all obsessions love can be a dark, dark thing.

Yet the film isn’t some descent into this creepy mind of a disturbed stalker, this isn’t some kind of twist on Punch-Drunk Love. There’s a comedic edge to the entire thing. Late nights at the grocery story have a way of producing some funny moments. There’s also just this hilariously grandiose edge to some of the most mundane moments such as when a colleague hums “Eye of the Tiger” or when our hero rescues a man from a gang of young muggers. There are some big laughs to be had but it’s not paced at a comedic tempo.

I’m divided on this film. For one it just seems to be a lot of creepy activity by this shy guy for the runtime of the film. But it has its moments and by the end you feel for his character. Yet there are these long, dull scenes where we’ve got to watch just how tedious and mundane his job is. Yes, it’s excellent at putting us in his shoes but it was about as boring to me as watching paint dry on the wall at times.  If you’ve got the patience to watch a lot of security feed of not much happening punctuated by some funny moments the payoffs work but don’t be surprised if your mind wanders elsewhere before you get there.

© 2010 James Blake Ewing