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788 Ratings

The Selfish Giant

Directed by Clio Barnard
United Kingdom, 2013


Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name, The Selfish Giant is a contemporary fable about two teenage boys who get caught up in the world of copper theft. Director Clio Barnard based her adaptation on stories she was told and people she met whilst making her previous feature.

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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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For all its relentless horrors (and dear Lord does this movie go to some terrible places),The Selfish Giant never feels predictable. Credit the remarkable young actors, as well as Barnard’s observant style: Every moment in this film is alive with possibility, with the chance that everything will go haywire in a new way.
December 20, 2013
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