|Chapman and Thomas in this underrated British film.|
Directed by Clio Barnard
Produced by Tracy O'Riordan
Written by Clio Barnard
Starring Conner Chapman, Shaun Thomas, Sean Gilder and Lorraine Ashbourne
Inspired by Oscar Wilde's short story, this striking tale of two working-class boys is a film to be celebrated. Arbor (Chapman) and Swifty (Thomas) are two kids living in Bradford, England. After being kicked out of school, the pair gather scrap metal to earn money for their struggling families. The owner (Gilder) of the junkyard has a horse, which the two boys rent to haul their findings. While the boys are earning money, they're risking their lives, stealing cable and other odds and ends for scrap. Their means to an end is bound to catch up with them; it's just a matter of time.
If you like Ken Loach, Andrea Arnold, Shane Meadows or the Dardennes, Clio Barnard's new film should be much to your liking. The film's stunning cinematography by Mike Eley echoes the bleak lensing of Robbie Ryan (Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights), and provides a stripped-down canvas for the cast of mostly unexperienced actors. It's strikingly bare, which is even more effective with the naturalistic performances. Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas are terrific, especially Chapman, who gives an assured, explosive portrayal and the best child performance of the year. Sean Gilder also gives an appropriately harsh, real performance as the manipulative junkyard king. The atmosphere in this film is grim, yet there's a beauty in the tragedy of these characters' circumstances that makes it a powerful experience. In a great year for overlooked gems, this is a treasure in a crowded year of fine films.
Oscar Potential: None