Apparently loosely based on an Oscar Wilde short story, The Selfish Giant is a unrelentingly depressing tale of poverty in Britain. Conner Chapman (Arbor) and Shaun Thomas (Swifty) play two friends in their early teens from families riddled with poverty, with both boys excluded from school. They decide to spend their newly-acquired free time scrapping metal, taking it to the scrapyard run by a man called Kitten (Sean Glider) who certainly does not live up to his name. They start with old tin pans, toasters and fridges before realising the real treasures lie up on the cable pylons, carrying much danger. There is something slightly mystical about The Selfish Giant, whether it’s the horse and carriage road race which feels like something out of a fairy tale or the story of two lost souls believing they have a purpose. It’s abjectly bleak which makes it a test of endurance at times despite its moderate running time. The title doesn’t make much sense after viewing, leading me to think it requires some knowledge of the short story to really grasp all of its subtext. It’s certainly rich and gritty but not ideal mid-afternoon viewing, especially if you want to enjoy the rest of your day. Not many laughs, which may well be the point.
Review by David Rank
The Selfish Giant is out now in the UK . Running time 91 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).