I Kill Giants (2017)

I Kill Giants
Director: Anders Walter
Writer: Joe Kelly
Based on: Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura‘s comic I Kill Giants
Cast: Madison Wolfe, Sydney Wade, Zoe Saldana, Imogen Poots, Rory Jackson, Art Parkinson, Jennifer Ehle
Seen on: 7.10.2022

Barbara (Madison Wolfe) is a bit of an outcast, but she is always busy – laying traps, scouting, looking for signs that yet another giant will come to town. A giant she will need to take care of. Meanwhile her sister Karen (Imogen Poots) is doing everything to keep the family running while her brother Dave (Art Parkinson) is of little help. Barbara’s preoccupation with giants is not something that makes it easier for her to make friends, so when new-in-town Sophia (Sydney Wade) makes contact, it’s a surprise – and a relief for Barbara. Much less of a relief is the attention of school psychologist Mrs. Mollé (Zoe Saldana). Especially not when Barbara has to deal with particularly dangerous giant.

I Kill Giants is a sweet film that profits most from a simply astounding performance by Madison Wolfe and the way it takes Barbara and her (possible?) fantasies seriously.

The film poster showing Barbara (Madison Wolfe) holdng a giant hammer, wearing bunny ears and facing a giant.

I Kill Giants reminded me a lot of A Monster Calls (which was created around the same time as the comic this is based on and that I don’t know). It shares quite a few themes, and maybe the release of the movie adaptation shortly before I Kill Giants is what made this film fall under the radar a bit. I would also say that A Monster Calls touched me more deeply than I Kill Giants, but whether that’s because the latter felt more familiar, I don’t know.

That being said, it is not entirely the same story and its topics are difficult enough that we can stand to see it be told more than once. Especially since we get it with a female protagonist here – and we all absolutely need more characters like Barbara who get to be angry, and strong, and difficult, and in pain, and funny, and weird, and who get to fight, and make mistakes, and win, and heal.

Barbara (Madison Wolfe) on an utility pole, looking into the distance.

Madison Wolfe carries the film on her shoulders for the most part, and how she carries it! It is definitely something to behold. Poots and Saldana are also pretty good, but their characters are much more one-note and I felt like the script didn’t give them enough to work with (maybe it’s because in the end, it is a film made by men and both their characters embody such female experiences) [I mean this in a non-essentialist way, but Karen and Mrs Mollé are representations of what we expect of women, socially].

The film always manages to retain a sense of doubt in the audience: maybe there actually are giants here? Maybe it’s all true? It manages that by taking Barbara as seriously as kids take their fantasies. Whether there really is a monster under the bed is secondary to the fear that the assumption produces. And so Barbara’s struggles are entirely real, whether the giants are or not. It’s a lovely and insightful take that makes the film a special experience.

Barbara (Madison Wolfe) in the forest.

Summarizing: absolutely worth seeing.

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