One of the accusations levied against Tyrannosaur, Paddy Considine's 2011 British drama of violence and redemption in a working-class community, was its supposed fetishising of the suffering poor. It is not this London writer's place to judge the realism of the world of the Bradford housing estate that the two rebellious boys of The Selfish Giant live in. It's certainly grim. The wonderfully named Arbor and Swifty are truants with nothing but a friendship to share between them. Moving into the world of scrap dealing, they find there's money to be made selling their ill-gotten gains and certainly their families need it. The clothes on their backs are full of holes, their mothers and brothers hit them and their school won't have them. Conner Chapman as Arbor, the little tyke and streetwise malcontent on Ritalin, is compelling. His blonde fringe of hair and sullen mouth sum up his defiance in the face of adversity as reckless he drives his milder, horse-whispering friend Swifty on in the pair's quest to get their precious copper, no matter the danger.
The camera work and Clio Barnard's direction is naturalistic and raw, the accents are rough and unforgiving, the dialogue swings from economical northern wit to filthy abuse. Amid the gloom and the crushing press of humanity in town, there are lingering wide shots of electricity pylons standing in fields of horses at dawn – poignantly, it is horses that are used to pull the carts the young scrappers load their finds onto. It is shocking to think this is a world that still exists in 2014. A bleak but fascinating British film with a truly memorable end.