Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Dec 20, 2013
    100
    It’s so assured and accomplished, so rigorous on both a human and technical level, and so clearly driven by love for this harsh landscape and its hardened people, that I was entirely swept away by its characters and their story.
  2. Reviewed by: Inkoo Kang
    Dec 17, 2013
    100
    Devastating in its simplicity and honesty, The Selfish Giant is a colossus of feeling.
  3. Reviewed by: Paul Bradshaw
    Oct 24, 2013
    100
    Carried aloft by the remarkable performances of her two young leads, Clio Barnard’s poignant, unflinching slice of hard-knock-life grips tight and lingers long. Britain’s definitely got talent.
  4. Reviewed by: Guy Lodge
    May 27, 2013
    100
    The film’s turn toward the tragic is hardly untelegraphed, but its emotional blows still land with crushing precision.
  5. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    May 27, 2013
    100
    So hauntingly perfect is Barnard’s film, and so skin-pricklingly alive does it make you feel to watch it, that at first you can hardly believe the sum of what you have seen.
  6. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Dec 20, 2013
    90
    As Arbor, nonprofessional actor Chapman gives one of the fiercest performances of this kind since Martin Compston's turn as a different sort of teenage entrepreneur in Loach's 2002 film "Sweet Sixteen." He's riveting, even in his final moment of calm.
  7. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Dec 18, 2013
    83
    That The Selfish Giant feels familiar rather than groundbreaking makes it seem to some degree a step back for its talented director, but she’s avoided the sophomore jinx with aplomb.
  8. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    Jul 8, 2013
    83
    The Selfish Giant preaches compassion by showing us in its very closing moments, the fathomless goodness that can lie beneath even the spittingest, snarlingest exterior.
  9. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Jan 6, 2014
    80
    From the beginning, you can feel this restive, pulsing movie burn from discontent toward disaster. The whole thing should sap the spirit, and make you despair of a lost and wasted country, yet you are constantly shocked awake by the energy of Arbor, whether it is spent on insolence, initiative, or grief. The boy’s a bright wire.
  10. Reviewed by: Annlee Ellingson
    Dec 26, 2013
    80
    The Selfish Giant is devastating social realism in the mode of Ken Loach's "Kes."
  11. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Dec 19, 2013
    80
    Both leading actors are teenagers who’ve never acted before — and they are both phenomenal.
  12. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Dec 19, 2013
    80
    The Selfish Giant is a harsh movie, but it isn’t devoid of hope, because Barnard understands that everything has value—even if it can’t be realized until after an object’s been tossed out.
  13. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Dec 18, 2013
    80
    Mike Eley’s gorgeously saturated cinematography helps elevate the boys’ struggle into the realm of the heroic, but it’s the two young stars — one a whirlwind and the other a quiet protector — who make this only-slightly tall tale into something towering.
  14. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    Oct 22, 2013
    80
    It’s not a pretty story, but its warmth lies in its fondness – love, even – for the two boys at its heart.
  15. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Oct 21, 2013
    80
    A terrific human drama about two boys about to be consigned to the scrapheap, with standout performances from its young leads.
  16. Reviewed by: Neil Young
    May 27, 2013
    80
    [A] solidly effective addition to Britain's social realism tradition, elevated by excellent performances by the young leads and some unexpectedly poetic touches.
  17. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    May 27, 2013
    80
    This is a fine film, which cements Barnard's growing reputation as one of Britain's best film-makers.
  18. Reviewed by: Kate Erbland
    Dec 24, 2013
    79
    An emotionally punishing experience.
  19. Reviewed by: Oscar Moralde
    Dec 16, 2013
    75
    The ear for language is paired with an eye for the landscape, and the film finds beauty even in such a seemingly dreary, economically depressed community.
  20. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    May 27, 2013
    75
    Though slow-going for much of its running time, Arbor's delicate tale culminates with a frighteningly choreographed tragedy, but tacks on a beautifully evocative and mostly wordless epilogue that carries the semblance of progress.
  21. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 19, 2013
    70
    Intent on showing that Arbor and Swifty live in a world of radically limited possibilities, barely sustained by their families and failed by the state, Ms. Barnard locks them into a narrative prison. Their fates seem predetermined less by their circumstances than by the iron will and limited imagination of their creator.
  22. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Dec 20, 2013
    50
    It is admirably unsparing and gloomily atmospheric. And I looked at my watch a bunch of times.
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Dec 18, 2014
    9
    An absolutely inspiring film about a massive person who is utterly selfish. Mark Pitts only plays a small part but for me steals the show. AAn absolutely inspiring film about a massive person who is utterly selfish. Mark Pitts only plays a small part but for me steals the show. A future star !! Full Review »
  2. Aug 5, 2014
    10
    "The Selfish Giant" is an unexpectedly excellent working-class friendship movie. A strong and first-class first-time performance from two"The Selfish Giant" is an unexpectedly excellent working-class friendship movie. A strong and first-class first-time performance from two young leading actors make a tale about friendship, lost and desperation going quietly emotional and being a proof that British cinema has a film even better than Hollywood. Full Review »
  3. Jun 5, 2014
    9
    a movie not many will see. a shame. it is, head and shoulders, better than 99.9% of the crap coming out of hollywood. unflinching,a movie not many will see. a shame. it is, head and shoulders, better than 99.9% of the crap coming out of hollywood. unflinching, unsentimental, but very moving and sensitive. i missed a good quarter of the dialogue because i couldn't sort out the Northern accent. which really didn't matter. the story was so well conveyed cinematically and through the actors, it is easily grasped. outstanding. Full Review »