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975 Ratings

The Selfish Giant

Directed by Clio Barnard
United Kingdom, 2013


Two thirteen year-old working-class friends in Bradford seek fortune by getting involved with a local scrap dealer and criminal.

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The Selfish Giant Directed by Clio Barnard
Barnard engages with the harsh socio-economic realities of contemporary Britain—which here recall a Dickensian brutality in contemporary times—yet her vivid eye for detail and love for chiaroscuro produces contrasted and wondrous imagery. Filled with dualisms (nature, junkyard metal; boys, men) The Selfish Giant takes the tone of a fable, warning of the fragility of life.
August 21, 2014
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Barnard realizes the settings in immersive detail, and she elicits some strikingly convincing performances from her cast; Conner Chapman, playing a boy with an untreated behavioral disorder, delivers one of the scariest performances I’ve seen from a child actor. The movie takes its title and narrative structure from a children’s story by Oscar Wilde; as in the Dardenne brothers’ The Kid With a Bike, the fairy-tale elements bolster the contemporary story with a sense of timelessness.
January 08, 2014
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The Selfish Giant is easy to admire but difficult to recommend, because its vision of friendship, poverty and desperation is so stark. Written and directed by Clio Barnard, this film about adolescent boys who gather scrap to help their families is based on a fable by Oscar Wilde. But where Wilde’s story summons warmly cathartic tears, the tears this film earns are colder and grimmer. Its outcome feels both unfair and inevitable.
December 20, 2013
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