review: the selfish giant (2013)

So this film was definitely different than what I was expecting. That being said – I didn’t really know what to expect, between the colourful film poster, the vague title, and the Netflix description:

Two teens steal wire from power stations and rail lines to sell to scrap dealer Kitten. But their friendship sours as Kitten begins to favor one boy.

Now what you think from that description? Tbh, I got the impression that Kitten was a girl… but maybe that’s just me, and now that’s really awkward.

The Selfish Giant film poster.

The Selfish Giant film poster.

Anyway, IMDB gives a better synopsis for this film:

A contemporary fable about two scrappy 13-year-old working-class friends in the UK who seek fortune by getting involved with a local scrap dealer and criminal, leading to tragic consequences

With the confusion out of the way, let’s talk about the film. Compared to my most recent post on And While We Were Here (2012), this film literally contrasted with its more blue-grayish colouring. Plotwise, it reminded me of The 400 Blows (1959), a film set in an impoverished Paris, of a tragically misunderstood boy who runs away from home and gets involved in crime in order to survive. Some similarities include the young, misunderstood child characters in both films – who actually have very similar acting styles. Additionally, both characters in these films have problems at home, get in trouble with their teachers at school, and have just one friend who they can rely on and tell everything to. Both child actors (Connor Chapman as Arbor here, Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine in The 400 Blows), did a great job at acting as boys beyond their years, in terms of misunderstood intelligence and responsibility.

Connor Chapman as Arbor.

Connor Chapman as Arbor.

In the end, no matter how talented the children were (including Shaun Thomas as Swifty, Arbor’s best friend), I didn’t actually like this movie. It was very slow moving, and brought me down – but not in a good way like The Virgin Suicides or The Boy in the Striped Pajamas did. It was just a groggy, sad, unpleasant, and unsatisfied feeling enveloping me at the end of the film.

Arbor, and Shaun Thomas as Swifty.

Arbor, and Shaun Thomas as Swifty.

I think the main reason for my dislike of this film was how slow it moved. I was not a fan of the pace – and sometimes slow-moving films can be done well, but not in this case – for me anyway. This slow pace was further embellished with looooooooooooooong, static shots of scenery, showing wire cables in the sky, horses, and sheep. While these long shots of “nothing” may have significance to do with the message being relayed through the film, I just wasn’t feeling it at all.

Long shots of

Long shots of “nothing”.


just my rating: ★★


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