The Selfish Giant | Chicago Reader

The Selfish Giant

91 minutes 2013

Clio Barnard, who directed the hard-hitting documentary The Arbor (2010), makes her fiction feature debut with another wrenching story of working-poor desperation in northern England. She follows two preteen boys, both social outcasts from broken homes, as they're taken under the wing of an immoral junkyard owner, who employs them to steal metal from public works. 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. The dialogue, delivered in thick regional accents, is subtitled.

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The Selfish Giant

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