My wife picked out a DVD recently called The Selfish Giant. I thought it sounded familiar but it wasn’t until the closing credits that I copped it was the name of Oscar Wilde’s famous children’s story.
This is a modern take on that. The setting is the grim and gritty estates and wastelands of Bradford, north England. The story is of two boys – each with their own crippling personal and family problems – who struggle and battle for purpose.
The youngest boy is Arbor, a feral child, brilliantly captured by Conner Chapman. His quieter and more sensitive friend is Swifty, also excellently played by Shaun Thomas. They get expelled from school after they protect each other from bullies. Like so many such boys they have qualities – not least entrepreneurship, loyalty, and, in Swifty’s case, a gift with horses. One of the reasons the story appealed to me was that it is similar to the story I am writing.
The boys get involved with a shady, and violent, local scrap dealer and criminal, Kitten, played by Sean Gilder. All the acting is superb in this, including the boys’ parents and siblings. It has all the social realism of a Mike Leigh production. The writer and director by the way is Clio Barnard. Hats off to her.
It is a powerful piece of art. It is moving, visually beautiful at times, endearing, gripping and painfully sad. It’s maybe not a Friday night film. More of a Saturday/Sunday night one. Well, well worth it.
See review here in the telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/10063353/Cannes-2013-The-Selfish-Giant-review.html