WATCH: In Lackluster Cannes for Brits, UK Filmmaker Clio Bernard Triumphs

Clio Barnard at the Cannes Film Festival. (Photo: Rex Features via AP Images)

Clio Barnard at the Cannes Film Festival. (Photo: Rex Features via AP Images)

British director Clio Barnard, whose social realist drama The Selfish Giant, screened at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, has received some of the best reviews British critics gave to any film at Cannes.

The Guardian wrote that it is a “heart-wrenching movie with some stunning set pieces.” The Telegraph critic was just as impressed calling it “a brilliant and soul-scouring fable.”

Clio Barnard’s film is inspired by the Oscar Wilde short story “The Selfish Giant,” and it’s set amid the urban desolation of the housing estates of Bradford in Yorkshire. The picture focuses on two teenage boys who collect scrap metal to make money, chronicling their relationship with one another — and the man who employs them. Particularly striking in the film are the young actors Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas, who play the teenagers and give excellent performances.

“It’s a story really about a loving friendship, and it’s about love, and it’s about loss,” says Barnard.

This is the director’s second picture. Her first film, an experimental documentary looking at the life of a Bradford playwright, was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010 and went on to receive considerable acclaim. But The Selfish Giant has given her career a huge boost, and she leaves Cannes as a highly respected and significant voice in British cinema.