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Movie review: ‘Gigante’

In the title role of Adrián Biniez’s quietly engaging “Gigante,” Horacio Camandule’s Jara is pretty gigantic: a nice-looking, massive guy whose solid build is marred by too much belly for even his large frame. He’s a shy, 35-year-old security guard who works a night shift monitoring the surveillance cameras of a vast supermarket on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay. Through one of his cameras, he spots Julia (Leonor Svarcas), a pretty young cleaning woman.

It’s an instance of virtual love at first sight, but Jara doesn’t know what to do with his feelings. He can’t even bring himself to say hello to the woman; instead his bottled-up emotions and empty existence propel him to follow her around town.

In his feature debut, Biniez could easily be setting in motion a familiar, suspenseful stalker thriller, but thankfully he is much more concerned with exploring the workings of the human heart with a touch of wistfulness and a dash of humor. Actually, Biniez, an acute, compassionate observer, has the courage to take a risky path, daring to observe ordinary, everyday life as experienced by a lonely guy. However, as banal as Jara’s routines are, tensions commence to build ever so subtly. While “Gigante” is not at all predictable, it seems clear that something has got to give within Jara; we fear not so much for Julia but rather that Jara might explode in some way that would do him harm.

Biniez and Camandule early on persuade us that Jara is a decent, sweet-natured man worth caring about. Even so, Biniez does keep us guessing, keeping alive a feeling of uncertainty as to how his growing obsession with Julia will play out.

As unpretentious as it is perceptive, “Gigante” is a gem.

calendar@latimes.com


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