The Selfish Giant

DRAMA; 1hr 31min

STARRING: Conner Chapman, Shaun Thomas, Sean Gilder

Wilde thing: Chapman

Arbor and Swifty are Yorkshire best mates who wrong-foot it every time. Their Bradford housing-estate lives are poverty-grimed, abrasive and chaotic and their schooling is a farce. Arbor (Chapman) is a fizzing ball of inadequately medicated ADD stress; Swifty (Thomas) is the balancing softer touch. For both of them, it’s a too-easy slide from Arbor’s school expulsion into a gritty pit of hard men and low crime in writer-director Clio Barnard’s raw-boned interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s lyrical children’s short story.


Unwanted everywhere else, the boys find a saw-edged roost with scrap-metal dealer Kitten (Gilder), who is anything but, and heavily into rough-as-guts horse-and-cart street racing. Barnard (The Arbor ) knows that in this Ken Loach–stamped world, deadening degrees of grey will most likely fade inexorably to black. Chapman and Thomas plainly understand that, too: as piteous kids cruelly robbed of a childhood and hurtling, defenceless, towards something final and terrible, they are devastating.