The Giant: A Non-Spoiler Review

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Poster for The Giant with the title in Swedish “Jätten”. A giant figure walks towards a sunset with mountains in the distance. TIFF logo top left


The Giant (2016) aka Jätten is a Swedish sport-drama feature film available on Prime Video U.K., US & Canada, plus Vudu and Tubi US. 1 hour 26 minutes in duration. Rated PG U.K. but I would rate it 12 because there are clear sexual references.


Rikard is an autistic and severely deformed man who was separated from his mother at birth. Thirty years later he is convinced that he will get her back if only he wins the Scandinavian Championship of pétanque. He tries to do the impossible. His fragile physique and a harsh judging environment are not going to stop him. Plus there is a 200-foot giant on his side.


Christian Andrén as Rikard Boberg
Johan Kylén as Roland
Anna Bjelkerud as Elizabeth
Linda Faith as Lina
Ola Bjurman as Jan-Ove
Niclas Fransson as Kjell
Hans-Erik Hermansson as Greger
Pablo Patron as Magnus


Writer: Johannes Nyholm
Director: Johannes Nyholm
Composer: Björn Olsson
Cinematographer: Johan Lundborg
Editors: Morten Højbjerg, Johannes Nyholm
Production Designer: Ellen Oseng
Prosthetic Makeup Designer: Love Larson


I stumbled across The Giant while surfing around on Prime Video looking for Nordic films to watch. The premise of the film seemed somewhat original and I noticed that it had won, and been nominated for, some awards. I recently watched another sports film revolving around those who are outsiders and I was interested to see what this one would bring to the table.

My impression of The Giant was that the hand-held camerawork gave the feeling of it being something of a fly-on-the-wall documentary. I have to say that throughout this film which did not have a massive budget the direction and cinematography really impressed me. Both were interesting and added a lot to how the story was told.

I especially liked the folktale/storybook interludes with the mountains, autumnal scenes, and a “troll”. Later these extend into the towns. These scenes have a strong surreal quality and are, I think, Rikard’s fantasies.

Rikard is disabled and has a severe facial deformity along with other issues due to a “syndrome” (or so it is surmised by medical staff). As such, he was abandoned by his mother shortly after birth due to her mental health issues.

We meet his mother, her cockatoo and piano accordion fairly early in the film and it’s clear she still has issues. The other peripheral characters could have had a bit more development but one at least made me eye roll (in a good way), laugh and then applaud.

One aspect of this film that impressed me was how inclusive it was and that those with disabilities are not relegated to inactive roles. They, along with the other members of the cast are part of an ensemble piece.

At the centre of this are Rikard and Roland and the relationship and chemistry these two actors (and characters) had worked well for me. Not all was sweetness and light but realistic, moving and mutually respectful.

There is some humour in this film, some of which works better than others, but it’s a good counterbalance to the parts which are by turns agonising or infuriating to watch. Some of the sweetest, most satisfying scenes are when Rikard and Roland are chatting, making jokes and giggling together. The rating is PG in the U.K. but some of the sexual references are more a 12…

The Giant throws a spotlight onto the casual, institutional and societal cruelty and disregard of those with disabilities or who are “other”. Rikard suffers from bullying, both verbal and physical. It’s lovely to see Roland stepping in on at least one occasion (I gave a little cheer!) to do what I felt like doing to some ignorant, drunk assailants.

This film is not predictable and some will, no doubt, find its structure and delivery a bit odd. It was exactly these things that made it work so well for me. Sure, there are parts which are a bit “messy” but overall I feel this is a worthwhile, albeit at times very uncomfortable, watch.


10 Award Wins & 8 Nominations

Wins include:

Guldbagge (2017) Best Film, Best Makeup, Best Screenplay


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