Alienating. The dramatic stakes are detached, the character's nothing more than pawns for a narrative that's nothing more than a series of vignettes without a sense of destination. The plot itself is ordinary, the directing is rather bland. It tries to show harsh prison life, but it's just half-baked, apparent even in the rape scene that isn't as horrifyingly emotional as it should be.
Would have been a 5-star film for me if there was a better ending to this narrative. Otherwise, this was a strong film with a brutal story to tell. Loved the performances by young Winstone and the rest of the kid performers. It's a bit black-and-white in terms of good and bad, but still... extremely solid.
Brutal. Dreary. Truthful. Scum does what many films since have tried and failed to capture: truth within it's narrative. A brutal, destitute truth about power, authority, and the rights of men. Brought in by fantastic performances by many young actors (including a wonderfully harsh young Ray Winstone), Scum is not simply about a time and a place, but is about what, when pushed to the edge, a man must do to survive.
Ray Winstone fan for life because of this performance. He does something incredible with his tough trying to survive ways, the way he tries to hide his vulnerability is heart breaking. And when you see him trying to get through this journey of prison, and the harsh situations he finds himself in, cause anyone watching this to focus on him and him only. A must see for anyone who claims to know British cinema.
Intense, brutal portrayal not just of a wretched institution but of a harder era in general. Watching this brought back memories of my junior high in a working class suburb of Vancouver, BC in the early 1980s. Even the look and construction of the main building was similar--minus the bars, of course. Was great seeing "Jimmy" again, too. Who fans will know.
The development seems less individual than contextual or collective. While even the rape scene does not seem novel to the guards, they don't quite seem to anticipate the suicides or ensuing riot, which open a new space in the film. The treatment of race is gripping and portrays the system as consistently barbaric throughout.
If you haven't seen the shortened BBC version, you should buy the two disc set immediately! It shows a side to Carlin that is barely hinted at in the film version. It's not nearly as harrowing, but you will definitely look at the film differently after seeing the original.