Selfish Giant – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review
A pair of “problem” children are kicked out of school, Arbor uses medication to control his moods (when his addict brother doesn’t steal his “kiddie cocaine”), and Swifty is a bit thick and generally good natured, but is led astray by his friend. Both come from poorer English families. When both are excluded (expelled) from school, Arbor starts to steal metal to sell to a local scrap dealer (“Kitten”) who has very loose morals. He has teams out stealing wire from telephone crews, from power stations, wherever they can find it, always looking for that valuable copper. As a side venture, Kitten owns horses, which he rents out to his teams for their scrap runs but he also has a harness racing horse named Diesel that he races (apparently illegally) on side roads. Swifty is very good with horses and soon endears himself enough to become the regular race driver. By finding something he can do that involves his love of horses, Swifty looks to be trying to turn his life for the better, while Arbor becomes increasingly greedy and shady, all in attempts to make money and to impress Kitten. When his greed leads to theft, and that theft is discovered, Arbor pays a tragic cost while trying to repay his debts.
The Selfish Giant is based on a fable by Oscar Wilde, a fable I have not read or was really even aware of until the special features of this DVD mentioned it. I see the animated shot is on YouTube, and the animation does look somewhat familiar, so I will view that shortly. This film certainly showed a poorer side of the English population, and how rough their lives can be. The film’s strength lies on the shoulders of the two young leads, (Connor Chapman and Shaun Thomas) as we see Arbor as a complex mix of ruthlessness, cheekiness and anger and Swifty as the child who wishes to escape that trap. If you’re looking for a very gritty look at youth growing up, this certainly fits the bill, as the youths’ hardships begin at home, extend to school and then to the criminal world they enter.
Bottom Line: interesting story, well told, and a little shocking…