The Selfish Giant

Director: Clio Barnard, Main Cast: Conner ChapmanShaun ThomasSean Gilder

This is a story about friendship between two boys, Arbor and Shifty, from the margins of the working class of the Midlands.  Arbor is outgoing and full of energy but he’s also prone to violent outbursts for which he takes medications. He lives with his mom and his junkie older brother. Shifty is more subdue and reserved, he’s kind, soft-hearted and tries to be responsible. He is the eldest of a large brood and his parents can barely scrap a living. Arbor and Shifty are always out and about, both to amuse themselves and to get a penny. After being kicked out of school for fighting, they enter the shady world of metal scrappers and its borderline or outright illegal activities. They befriend Kitten, the owner of the local scrap yard, and rent his cart and horse to wander around town and collect metal. As they earn some money, they see how they could earn more and Arbor gets bolder and reckless in his capers to obtain quality copper. Shifty acts like the voice of reason and he’s more concerned about the well-being of people and horses. The two boys have a fall out and they reconcile only for tragedy to strike. This is a heartfelt and engaging film made by a skilled and keen observer of mankind. The two young actors are just brilliant and the absence of a music score makes each scene more relatable and powerful. Clio Barnard is a director to watch, her style reminds me of  Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank) and  Cate Shortland (Somersault).  Compelling —8/10

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