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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `The Selfish Giant' is the sort of film that the British excel in
`The Selfish Giant' is British filmmaker Clio Barnard's new film, set on the same Bradford estate that featured in her debut `The Arbor'. Swifty (Shaun Thomas) and Arbor (Conner Chapman) are two thirteen year old boys, best friends who always seem to be upto something they shouldn't be in. But theirs is not merely a selfish path of youthful gratification, they know their...
Published 13 months ago by dipesh parmar

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Considering it was Bafta nominated she was very disappointed with the whole film
Bought this for my wife who was expecting it to be on a par with Kes.Considering it was Bafta nominated she was very disappointed with the whole film.Found very little content endearing or amusing.
Published 4 months ago by Dominic Allen


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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `The Selfish Giant' is the sort of film that the British excel in, 5 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Selfish Giant [DVD] (DVD)
`The Selfish Giant' is British filmmaker Clio Barnard's new film, set on the same Bradford estate that featured in her debut `The Arbor'. Swifty (Shaun Thomas) and Arbor (Conner Chapman) are two thirteen year old boys, best friends who always seem to be upto something they shouldn't be in. But theirs is not merely a selfish path of youthful gratification, they know their parents struggles and want to improve their lives.

Victims of their circumstances, expelled from school and lacking a purpose in life, the boys drift aimlessly down a dangerous path. The boys hit upon a scrap metal scam, stealing copper cables left on a railway line by some just as untrustworthy individuals. They soon embark on trying to make a living from scrap metal, twinned with a fascination for horses. Swifty in particular has a gift with horses, and feels even more at home with them then he does with Arbor. He's the more sensitive and innocent of the two, Arbor's behavioural problems (ADHD) and big mouth tends to land them both in trouble.

The boys start to work for a local scrap-dealer named Kitten (Sean Gilder). Kitten shows no qualms about exploiting the boys' willingness to earn money, encouraging them to rent his horse and cart from him in order to collect scrap metal from sources that aren't legal. Kitten also runs an illegal horse-and-cart race, shown in one of the standout scenes, and he wastes no time in employing Swifty as a jockey. Barnard makes a subtle comment on child exploitation, but far more on the world commodities boom which has led to many people taking huge risks where copper has become the new gold. It also illustrates the waste that exists in society , plus how an entrepreneurial spirit can make money out of anything.

`The Selfish Giant' is the sort of film that the British excel in, and there is a point where you do get tired of yet another film about how grim it is up North. But you cannot fault the film, and if anything its nowhere near as bleak as you'd have imagined. First-timers Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas are exceptional, as are the whole cast who give the whole film a naturalistic feel.

There's clearly a lot of anger in this film concerning the way society has let down these boys and forgotten about these communities. Barnard doesn't pull any punches but there is a surprising level of compassion and grace from the adults which really pulls on your emotions. For all the hardships they've suffered there's still something inside them which burns through their grim reality to reveal what it really takes to be an adult and a parent. The final moments of the film are practically dialogue-free, but you won't find a more powerful sequence all year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark, moody and ultimately deeply disturbing film, 8 Sep 2014
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Selfish Giant [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
While not audacious and brave in it's style as Barnard's smashing debut "The Arbor", it explores much of the same territory – poverty in northern England. But this time Barnard uses a more neo-realist bent that recalls the films of Ken Loach, among others. And after two viewings, while I missed the wild rule-breaking she did in her first film, I felt she had made a film of gritty honest and emotional force.

The story centers on two young teens (very well played by non-pros). Diminutive Arbor is hyperactive, angry, and so on the edge he can be frightening and simultaneously heartbreaking -- Arbor needs meds just to allow him to be calm enough to function. And there's Swifty, his best friend who is introvert to Arbor's extreme extrovert. Swifty is willing to go along with Arbor's schemes to a point, but he also wants to honor his mother's wish that he get an education, and try to move up and out of poverty.

The two begin collecting (and sometimes stealing) scrap metal to sell to a tough local junk metal dealer, Kitten. This is a man who is capable of being almost a father figure one moment, and stomping you into the ground the next. A sort of modern Fagan, using the boys to do his bidding (although, to be fair, the boys come to him).

A dark, moody and ultimately deeply disturbing film, that refuses to let us or society off lightly when it comes to kids growing up in the cycle of poverty.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars stand out debut performances in a gritty northern tale, 27 Oct 2013
By 
Matthew J. Parker "the legend writes:" (Todmorden, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Selfish Giant [DVD] (DVD)
Review for film only: Every so often a film comes along that is absolutely fantastic but falls into the category of 'films you'd never want to watch again'. Amour was the last film in this category and now Selfish Giant is the latest entry. The film focuses on two boys living around Bradford who are thrown out of school and make money for their families by finding/stealing copper and metal and selling it to an dodgy scrap metal merchant. The boys are good friends but this friendship shatters during the course of the film and eventually leads to tragedy. The two leads were apparently plucked from nowhere to star in this film and give absolutely amazing performances, but I would find it unlikely they'll appear in other roles different to this because of how good they are! The support is good also but by featuring Sean Gilder it can feel a bit like you are watching a film version of Shameless. There are one or two parts that seem a little unrealistic and I feel a bit uncomfortable watching it as it all feels too close to home and, the reason I won't watch it again, is because it is certainly not entertaining viewing. However I do certainly recommend one viewing of it, for the acting if nothing else, and it's a film that will stay with you for a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The view from drunkenmovieramblings.co.uk, 5 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Selfish Giant [DVD] (DVD)
Two young lads, Arbor (Connor Chapman) and Swifty (Shaun Thomas) excluded from school, both with a rough and tough upbringings, 'befriend' Kitten a local scrap dealer, they soon both begin collecting scrap, and a decision later has devastating consequences for all.

A working class Brit drama set in a bleak Northern town, this is the type of movie Ken Loach excels at, and Director Clio Barnard can hold her head high to the master himself. Great performances from the two young leads, especially 13 year old Connor, but with a strong cast through out, the movie is gritty, grimy but also very poignant, especially the heart breaking conclusion.
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4.0 out of 5 stars excellent film but not for the soft!, 18 Dec 2014
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S. L. Wilkinson (Shropshire UK) - See all my reviews
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a very good film but incredibly harrowing, dark and distressing. Spot-on acting on behalf of the young'uns; in fact everyone was authentic and believable. It's not a film you'll watch more than once but it really is worth a viewing. None of your Hollywood cheese or sing along sentimentality.. this is England.. and it's hard, cold and dog-eat-dog!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Internally graceful, cinematically poetic...", 8 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Selfish Giant [DVD] (DVD)
English screenwriter and director Clio Barnard`s feature film debut which she wrote, is inspired by real events in the life of a real person and a novel from 1888 by Irish 19th and 20th century author, playwright and poet Oscar Wilde. It premiered in the 45th Directors` Fortnight section at the 66th Cannes International Film Festival in 2013, was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival in 2013, was shot on locations in England and is a UK production which was produced by producer Tracy O`Riordan. It tells the story about a secondary school student named Arbor who lives in a terraced house with his mother named Michelle Fenton and his brother named Martin. One evening when Arbor and his best friend named Swifty who lives with his parents and six siblings are out riding on a horse, they notice two men who are cutting cables on a railway, scares them off and takes the cables.

Distinctly and eminently directed by English filmmaker Clio Barnard, this finely paced and somewhat fictional tale which is narrated mostly from the two main characters` viewpoints, draws an important and ingrained portrayal of two adolescent boys whom in the hopes of making some money to help out their families begins collecting scrap and delivering it to a scrap dealer. While notable for its atmospheric milieu depictions, reverent cinematography by cinematographer Mike Eley, production design by production designer Helen Scott, film editing by film editor Nick Fenton and use of sound, colors and light, this character-driven and narrative-driven story about young boys with limited options, friendship, a mistreated horse named Diesel, wounds of the human heart which are not healed by magic tricks and values of life which is envisaged by a filmmaker with authority whom is dearly remembered for her unforgettable directorial debut "The Arbor" (2010), depicts a dignified study of character and contains a great and timely score by composer Harry Escott.

This quietly perspicacious, naturally humerous and liable drama which is set in Bradford, England in the 21st century and where a rebellious son and brother without a father-figure whom has been neglecting school and stopped taking his medication and his goodhearted friend and classmate who looks out for him begins working at a scrapyard for an unreliable man named Kitten after an incident at school where Arbor stood up for Swifty after a student disrespected his family and they were excluded, is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrative structure, substantial character development, rhythmic continuity, distinct dialog, fairy-tale-like realism, subtle style of filmmaking, traces of the origins of English cinema, underlying and emphatic rage which is contrasted by a heartfelt humanity and the genuine acting performances by English actors Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas. An internally graceful, cinematically poetic and strikingly beautiful narrative feature which gained, among other awards, the Bronze Horse for Best Film at the 24th Stockholm Film Festival in 2013.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film. Full of the grit, 22 Dec 2014
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This review is from: The Selfish Giant [DVD] (DVD)
Excellent film. Full of the grit, humour and emotion you would expect of a British film set on the streets of Bradford. One of the best films I have watched in a long time.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful film but a struggle without subtitles, 2 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Selfish Giant [DVD] (DVD)
I don't know if my copy is defective or if it was made without subtitles, but watching it with one other person also from the south and one a foreigner, none of us could understand much of the dialogue, which was too fast and too accented for us to manage without a bit of support.

What a shame. Another reviewer has said this is a film which you should see once, but then may not want to see again as it is so dark. It was indeed dark, but we missed half of the nuances because of lack of subtitles, but now we know the ending ....

The blond kid's mother seemed a bit too sartorially smart for the role and their kitchen looked pretty smart too. This seemed a bit at odds with the (smartish) sofa being yanked out on to the euphemistically-termed front garden - a grassless wasteland. So there were contradictions. And of course I also wondered why the school did not get the social workers involved, so this also grated too. Just a bit unconvincing.

But apart from that, I thought the acting was very good and the photography atmospheric and convincing. But again, shame about the subtitles.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Harsh to watch sometimes,, 23 Dec 2014
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Harsh to watch sometimes, but worth it - the key messages of humanity despite the hard lives of the characters are moving
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5.0 out of 5 stars and got totally sucked in to the story, 23 Dec 2014
This review is from: The Selfish Giant (DVD)
Heartbreaking and absorbing film. I felt deeply for each of the characters, and got totally sucked in to the story.
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The Selfish Giant [Blu-ray]
The Selfish Giant [Blu-ray] by Clio Barnard (Blu-ray - 2014)
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