A Swedish film about a severely disabled man whose dream is to win the Nordic Championships at Pétanque whilst helped by a giant version of himself. No you have not fallen into a hallucinatory state or accidentally had some MDMA (hey that happens). This is the synopsis of what turned out to be an entirely beguiling, touching and heart-warming film about not just disability but motherhood, love and courage from Director/ screenwriter Johannes Nyholm
Rikard is a 29 year old man with both facial and physical disabilities who seems to be living a fairly happy life doing what he does best, playing Pétanque with his father at their local club. After a freak accident lands Rikard in hospital - it’s a wonder he’s lasted this long say the gaggle of doctors who poke and prod and even take pictures whilst Rikard is comatose with no consideration for the fact that he might be able to hear or feel. He is not a human to them. He is a specimen. A condition.
Rikard recovers from the coma and prepares for the Nordic Champs but he dealt another blow albeit an emotional one this time when him and his father Roland are chucked out of their beloved Pétanque team. On the way home from this meeting Rikard is attacked by three men and although Roland steps in it is a heart-breaking scene. Indeed there is a lot of cruelty towards Rikard in the film, which I imagine, is still the harsh reality – people fear what they do not understand. Rikard starts to imagine himself as a giant, moving with the ease he cannot to roam the countryside on the way to help him. These scenes are Peter Jackson esque and rather will done if a little jarring with the documentary style of the rest of the film.
Rikard and Roland form a team called Zughi (a word Rikard keeps trying to say that we never fathom the real meaning of) and prepare in earnest for the games. Rikard often thinks of his mother, a drug addict living in a dependency centre and in fact he runs away to try see her just before his 30th birthday which ends sadly. Another collapse means an MRI scan which although not spelt out is incredibly bad news for Rikard. This news makes the Pétanque club realise their cruelty and Rikard and Roland go on to perform in the Nordic Championships.
The Giant shines a light on the humanity of disability. The film is populated with disabled people of all conditions and it is a refreshing sight. Christian Andren and Johan Kylen who play Roland and Rikard accordingly are standout. The film is very funny at times and ultimately emotional and a complete original.