Clip Barnard's movie 'The Selfish Giant' is gaining comparisons to Ken Loach's 'Kes.'
Forget Captain Phillips, Ender's Game and Thor 2: The Dark World, all you British cinema fans need to do over the next week or two is hop along to the nearest screening of The Selfish Giant, buy your ticket, park your bottom in the seat and enjoy one of the finest British movies of a generation.
Conner Chapman as Abor in Clio Barnard's 'The Selfish Giant'
Sounds like ridiculous hyperbole yes? Well, Clio Barnard's new movie - which alludes to Oscar Wilde's children's story of the same name about a giant who builds a wall around his garden to keep kids out - is winning 5 star reviews all-round.
Barnard's contemporary take on the story does not feature giants with privacy issues. It's set on a housing estate in Bradford and follows two traunting boys - Abor and Swifty - who are drawn into the world of scrap metal dealing. Much of the critics' disbelief at The Selfish Giant centres on the astonishingly strong performances from two untrained actors, Conor Chapman and Shaun Thomas.
"The Selfish Giant is one of the great modern British films," said Nigel Andrews of the Financial Times.
"Rooted in a very real, modern Britain ... But for all its stark realism, it has a touch of myth to it too, and it's lyrically shot," said Time Out.
"A terrific human drama about two boys about to be consigned to the scrapheap, with standout performances from its young leads," wrote Ian Nathan of Empire magazine.
Conner Chapman Has No Acting Training or Experience
"The Selfish Giant earns all of its emotion the honest way. If it's at times painful to watch, in the end it gives back much more than it takes. It's generous and steadfast, like true friendship itself," said the Village Voice.
"Two elements stood out for me: the film's vivid evocation of edge-lands, the scrubby, generally disregarded hinterland areas on the outskirts of British cities, and its depiction of the actual physical circulation of money," wrote Sight and Sound.
Our very own Rich Cline was equally impressed, writing, "Inventive British filmmaker Barnard takes on Oscar Wilde's children's story with the same artistic creativity that made her previous film, the edgy drama-doc The Arbor, such a triumph."
The comparisons with Ken Loach's social realist classic Kes are obvious, though in conversation with The Guardian, Barnard explained, "I don't want the film to have explicit political content, but it is there.It's essentially a film about love, deep friendship and loyalty between the two boys, but it is played out in an adult world where something has gone fundamentally wrong, and children are often at the cutting edge of that.
"When I was making The Arbor, what I saw was excluded children whom we criminalise and demonise and who I think are victims of the widening gap of inequality. They get pushed out and that makes me upset and really, really angry. With The Selfish Giant, hopefully you see what gets lost when that ideology of greed is adopted wholesale."
The Selfish Giant is released today, October 25, 2013. The film is also available through the BFI's video-on-demand service.
Conner Chapman's Performance in 'The Selfish Giant' Is Being Heralded By Critics