Among Giants [1998]

In Among Giants, British actor Pete Postlethwaite is Ray, a down-on-his-luck Yorkshireman who heads up a crew of his similarly disadvantaged mates on a seemingly impossible and highly dangerous job. They have promised to paint 15 miles of gigantic electrical towers in three months. For Ray and his best pal Steve (strapping James Thornton), a lad young enough to be his son, the task is a breeze. They are seasoned rock climbers, adept at scaling the famous Yorkshire cliffs. The rest of the motley crew faces the assignment with varying degrees of discomfort and terror. (We watch them anxiously, waiting for tragedy to strike.) The film seems to fit squarely within the genre depicting the hardship and pluck of the underemployed underclass of the British Isles, which includes movies like The Full Monty and The Van. The men's job, and the film, changes entirely when Gerry, an itinerant Aussie rock climber, comes on the scene. Gerry is appealingly played by the athletic and attractive Rachel Griffiths, who was so terrific in Muriel's Wedding. After Gerry proves her climbing prowess by scrambling straight to the top of a perilously high tower, Ray takes her on as part of the crew. Wise, gentle Ray and randy, callow Steve both fall hard for Gerry, and for a while it looks like she will settle down with one of them. A tender love story and an exploration of men's and women's roles in working-class Britain, Among Giants is gorgeously shot, with stunning "giant's eye" views of the Yorkshire countryside, as seen from atop the high-tension towers. --Laura Mirsky

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