Review: The BFG By Tony Earnshaw

Giant movie: Mark Rylance as the BFG
Giant movie: Mark Rylance as the BFG
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Essentially a two-hander between man-of-the-moment (and resident Spielberg muse) Mark Rylance and newcomer Ruby Barnhill, The BFG is a charming and timeless tale from two master storytellers.

The combination of Steven Spielberg and Roald Dahl makes for a glorious display of old-fashioned children’s adventure. And it doesn’t matter if the tale deviates from Dahl’s original. What counts is the delivery.

Sophie (Barnhill) is a lonely lass snatched from a London orphanage and transported to a world of grotesque and non-too-bright giants by Runt, a 24ft tall dream-catching giant.

Why? Because she saw him. And that’s against the rules. But far from wanting to gobble her up this giant, an outsider to his lumbering fellows, just needs a friend. And so Sophie and Runt, who she nicknames BFG because he’s a big, friendly giant, begin to enjoy each other’s company and learn about each other’s lives.

An often extraordinary film that combines live action with motion capture and the best of computer-generated imagery, The BFG is funny, poignant, gently scary and wonderfully off-kilter.

Spielberg captures the innocence of Dahl’s world, setting it against perfectly conceived juvenile comedy. Perhaps the best example is the use of the BFG’s language – a mix of patois, malapropisms, inspired vernacular and a benign form of Anthony Burgess’s Nadsat from A Clockwork Orange.

It requires a rare player to bring it to life. That player is Rylance, a laughing eyed, crinkly-faced gem of an actor whose genius is in wringing every nuance from every cock-eyed line. And the script (by the late Melissa Matheson) is pure brilliance.

On general release.