An official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, The Selfish Giant is a contemporary fable about 13 year old Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighborhood, the two boys meet Kitten (Sean Gilder), a local scrap dealer. Wandering their town with just a horse and a cart, they begin collecting scrap metal for him. Swifty has a natural gift with horses while Arbor emulates Kitten - keen to impress him and make some money. However, Kitten favors Swifty, leaving Arbor feeling hurt and excluded, driving a wedge between the boys. As Arbor becomes increasingly greedy and exploitative, tensions build, leading to a tragic event that transforms them all.Written by
This is a formal interview under caution. Do you understand that, Fenton? Hey, do you understand?
A witness saw two youths burning railway or communications cable.
Michelle 'Shelly' Fenton:
That's nowt to do with him.
Cable theft is a very serious crime, Mrs. Fenton. Trespass on the railway is £1,000 fine.
I ain't been on railway.
Vandalism, endangering lives, maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Michelle 'Shelly' Fenton:
He's just a kid. He ain't nicked no cable. You're looking at wrong place.
He is, as you say, Mrs. Fenton, a minor. ...
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Well filmed Examination of Life in Contemporary Northern England
Based loosely on the Oscar Wilde story, THE SELFISH GIANT is set in contemporary Bradford, north England, and focuses on the lives of two boys, both of whom are misfits. Arbor (Conner Chapman) cannot fit in to high school life, and prefers to spend his time collecting scrap metal to help his impoverished family. His friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas) is emotionally softer, but proves brilliant at dealing with the prize horse of local dealer Kitten (Sean Gilder). With its washed-out colors and lengthy shots focusing on a grim post-industrial landscape, Clio Barnard's film looks at life on the margins, where families quite literally have to sell everything in order to survive. Despite their hardships, Arbor and Swifty forge a close friendship - so close, in fact, that we are both shocked and moved when tragedy strikes at the end of the film. THE SELFISH GIANT has strong links to Ken Loach's KES in its portrayal of contemporary working-class culture. The dialog is harsh and uncompromising, while the two central performances are memorable. There are certain rough edges - Gilder's Kitten comes across as rather two-dimensional, while his wife Mary (Lorraine Ashbourne) is almost too good to be true - but the film is definitely worth watching more than once.
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