The Selfish Giant (2013)

Beauty can be painfully raw and hopeless … in the hands of the right writer/director. Clio Barnard has put together a very strong piece of cinema whose images keep popping back into your head weeks after watching it.

The Selfish Giant is a story of life in Northern England for young impoverished children eager to make something of themselves but lacking the correct environmental influences in which to do so. The narrative follows two young boys, uninterested in school, eager to get out into the real world to make better men of themselves than their fathers are.

The cast is very strong all round. A special mention for child actors Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas, who deliver far beyond what we should expect from such young people. Kudos to casting director Amy Hubbard for finding should promising young talent.

The story is bleak but what lifts you up is the power of this medium in the right pair of hands. Outstanding.


You can find more information on this British movie on Wikipedia and IMDb.

As always, I recommend you don’t ruin any surprises by reading spoilers or watching trailers.


Title: The Selfish Giant

Language: English

Direction: Clio Barnard

Screenplay: Clio Barnard

Cinematography: Mike Eley

Editing: Nick Fenton

Score: Harry Escott

Stars: Conner Chapman, Shaun Thomas, Sean Gilder, Siobhan Finneran, Lorraine Ashbourne


Full Acting Cast and Roles


Comments left by readers may contain spoilers


  1. Hey Shimky, nice one +)
    Yeah the children are really natural salt. The flick poster’s also very nice, “ironic” with all the colours

    May I suggest as a follow up – same environment but with an “american” touch – a low budget (50.000$) personal fav of mine from 2013, Scrapper –

    All good, m

    1. MaxR, how nice to hear from you!

      Many thanks for the film tip – I will search for a copy.

      I hope all is good with you. As always, fique tranquilo, my friend.

      All the best

      1. A couple other films that come in mind about child violence and on which there are selfish giants; Shorterm 12 and Starred Up (O’connel’s a force of nature). Though teen violence and “containing facilities” it’s almost a genre in itself and a very different beast, I find interesting the possibility of following the violence’s root to the lacking of affection and care. As I grew up, had many friends in that situation (living in orphanages, alcoholic and drug addict parents, very poor big families, etc.), the more affection lacking the more violent displayed… and yet once you got through the hard shell, they were the kindest, more loyal, curios and courageous kids I’ve ever known.

        Thanks Shimky for the kind words, here, a special carrot… be safe from hunters ,-)
        Tudo de bombom

          1. I feel this is guy is destined to be a great talent, O’Connel I mean… still have to find time to watch him in ’71
            Glad you liked Shimky =)

        1. Yes, I’ve got hold of a copy of ’71. I’m really looking forward to watching it after seeing how talented Jack O’Connell is.

          I’ll be checking out Short Term 12 too!

  2. I like the fact that you are standing up for movies that are not so mainstream. The world need more heroes like you. I think I’ve only seen a couple of the noise on this list.

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