Set in a small rural town in England, The Selfish Giant tells the story of 13-year-old Arbor and his best friend, Swifty. Expelled from school and outcasts in their own neighborhood, the two young boys spend the majority of their time wandering aimlessly around town. All that changes when the boys meet Kitten, a local scrapdealer, who isn't exactly a great influence on the young boys. Clio Barnard's The Selfish Giant is the latest film to come out of the contemporary British neorealism movement that plays much like a fable in its depiction of two young boys with very little guidance. Arbor and Swifty couldn't be more different, with Arbor being the outspoken and brash type, while Swifty is quiet-type who has trouble standing up for each other, but they are bonded by their not-so-ideal surroundings. As the boys start to work for Kitten he begins to show favoritism towards Swifty, who offers more financial gain, which leads tensions between the two boys to rise ending in tragic results. If you haven't noticed by now, The Selfish Giant is a tough and sad story to experience but its gritty realism only makes it that much more poignant. This is a film that exposes the bad influences all around us and the importance of strong parental figures to help guide young minds down the right path. The Selfish Giant doesn't put all the blame on the parents though but the system as a whole for failing young minds. While it may not be the best film of this type in recent years, The Selfish Giant is undoubtedly a devastating bit of social realism that is incredibly genuine and poignant.
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