AT VARIOUS points in this fantastically pointless and dizzyingly pompous quirky comedy, a bearded figure (played by Zach Galifianakis from The Hangover) makes unexplained attempts to shoot, beat or stab the apparently narcoleptic protagonist. I know how he feels. After only a few minutes of Gigantic, I felt an almost overpowering urge to beat the film to death with the bluntest, most unhygienic object within reach.
This is not to suggest that Gigantic is badly made. Matt Aselton, a commercials director, has put together some impressive disciplined shots that nod towards work by such mid-century eggheads as Antonioni and Godard. If you want static takes of men talking in sparsely furnished rooms, then look no further.
Sadly, the sheaf of nonsequiturs that passes for a script offers the actors little material with which to illuminate the deadened spaces.
This is the sort of screenplay that appears proud of its resistance to easy summary, but we’ll give it a go. Paul Dano plays an employee at a bed shop whose daily labours bring him in touch with a strange young woman (indie high-priestess Zooey Deschanel) and her aggressive, eccentric father (indie godfather John Goodman).
When not falling in love with the former, Dano visits his father (Ed Asner) in the country to hunt game and cook up magic mushrooms. There’s also that recurring business with the bloke out of The Hangover and a subplot in which Dano tries to adopt a Chinese baby.
Everybody in the fine cast demonstrates why he or she is worth hiring, despite being asked to deliver dialogue at the pace of a Gregorian chant. But the film’s wilful oddness never gels into anything you might be tempted to care about. Unlike, say, a David Lynch or Wes Anderson film, Gigantic doesn’t appear to be concealing any great, delicious secrets. It’s just a hollow shell of uninteresting distractions.
The film does receive an extra star for including the mighty I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight by Richard and Linda Thompson. Unfortunately, it loses two more for making me feel slightly nauseous whenever I hear the song again.
Forty winks: Zooey Deschanel in Gigantic