THE SELFISH GIANT | MOVIE REVIEW

THE SELFISH GIANT is a film I was very keen to see a few weeks back, bad news though, I got sick and missed the screening, I thought it showed such promise and had so many incredible reviews I bought the thing from the UK so I could get it seen prior to release. I was definitely not disappointed. THE SELFISH GIANT is from Rialto Distribution and is one of those films that will just fade into oblivion in this country. It is pure arthouse with a story originally told by Oscar Wilde in 1888 (it is very loosely adapted), it is nearly flawless, but it is not mainstream so people will miss seeing something spectacular. It released today, Thursday 31st July from Rialto Distribution, and you will have to search your local art house cinema for this one. I know it is definitely playing at Chauvel Cinema, Palace Norton Street in NSW and Cinema Nova in VIC. It is rated MA15+ and runs for 91mins. 

 

THE SELFISH GIANT MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
THE SELFISH GIANT | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JASON KING

THE SELFISH GIANT is English screenwriter and director Clio Barnard’s feature film debut, is inspired by a real person in a novel from 1888 by Irish author, playwright and poet Oscar Wilde. It centres on a very stark and bleak, pauper, struggling town and two boys. Everything is meal to meal and there is little joy, it is set in Northern England and the two boys are inseparable. Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas star as Arbor and Swifty respectively. Arbor is a roughnut, in a more affluent town he would be classified as ADHD and medicated to the eyeballs, oh yeah, he is medicated to the eyeballs but has stopped taking his meds, which his brother (the druggy) steals. He is high energy and has little prospects, besides a heart of gold and love for his best mate Swifty. Swifty is more shy, larger, and an easy target for bullies. Both boys come from struggling families in a very depressing town.

One day Swifty is getting bullied at school and Arbor steps in and violently sorts it out, this leads to both boys being “excluded” from school  – in Australia we call this suspended. They begin wandering the town to find any form of scrap metal that they can sell at the local scrap yard, run by a man named “Kitten” (Sean Gilder in a brilliant subtle performance) – he is “the selfish giant” – he is the most successful man in town from selling his scrap metal and he sees a way to exploit the young boys. Swifty is a whizz with horses and they use horses and traps (like you see at the trots) to collect the junk metal around town and Kitten, on the side, runs some illegal races on the horse and traps. Of which Swifty is herded towards. Unfortunately Kitten has little time for Arbor and this sees him become more reckless, more arrogant, more greedy and desperate, and basically, more like Kitten, probably in an attempt to make the selfish giant like him more.

 

THE SELFISH GIANT MOVIE IMAGE
THE SELFISH GIANT | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | ILLEGAL HORSE AND TRAP RACING

 

While I love this film to bits and pieces it is very hard to urge you to see it, the film is very dark, very bleak and is immensely heartbreaking, for me, I was mesmerised and I bawled my eyes out. It is all made ok by a truly superb story and acting that is so next level. The performance by Conner Chapman, as Arbor, is up there as possibly my favourite performance of the year. He truly is a little shit, but to see his outbursts, cockiness and heartbroken performance that scopes the entire range was incredible. Shaun Thomas’s Swifty is his ideal complement in a duo referred to as Cheech and Chong by Kitten. Neither boy has a father figure in their life and have done the best they can, both have a shit family life and this made Swifty shrink further inside himself and Arbor started becoming a misguided man with abundant issues through necessity.

The boys bond with a horse, Kitten’s primo race horse, but Arbor is too impatient and not as calm and harmonious as Swifty and this leads to more trouble, ultimately ending in a disaster that will effect both boys and their families forever.

 

THE SELFISH GIANT MOVIE IMAGE
THE SELFISH GIANT | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | SWIFTY (SHAUN THOMAS) AND ARBOR (CONNER CHAPMAN)

 

Clio Barnard give us a superb feature film debut. It is gritty, dark, so dispassionate in its telling that you feel a certain documentary feel to the lives of the people in these post industrial dying towns. But at the same time you love these boys, you want them to be alright, you root for their success, but this town has no hope, is there anyway out? Ever? One thing that occasionally got on my nerves, while incredibly authentic, the hardcore Northern English accents could have done with some English subtitles at times. A bit of it got lost on me but it never detracted from the film.

The film is very deep and there are limited laughs in the film, the occasional laughs or smiles you will embrace, as the sadness and lifestyles of these people will tear at your heart. See this film for its authenticity and sublime acting. If you love your mainstream rom coms made by corporations this is not for you but if you love superbly made movies with heart and plot then get your ass to a cinema and watch this film.

 

4 and a Half Pops

 

 

 

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