The teenage criminal Eric Love seems street-smart enough to navigate the corruption of the British prison system. But after his violent streak sends him to an adult prison, Eric comes face to face with Nev, a career criminal … and his long-lost father.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
Another gritty, tense and violent prison film. Jack O’Connell is a tightly-wound powder keg, a damaged teen in an adult prison begging for ultra violence. The film captures perfectly the trauma done by institutionalism and fractured family. Mendelsohn is in form as the unwilling father. Beautifully shot, capturing the tense vibe fleshed out by a solid support cast that proves a damning comment on the system.
Incendiary performances and a skillful, refined direction make for a wholly engrossing experience. The film never goes beyond the walls of the prison, or beyond the here-and-now of the prisoners. This is an explosive portrait of aggression and savagery (not unlike Alan Clarke's Scum), and its main flaw was not spending enough time exploring fatherly guilt or expanding on the racial tensions.
With electrifying performances from young O'Connell and Mendelsohn, "Starred Up" ranks itself high up on my list of best prison movies, along with "A Prophet", "Hunger", "Kiss of the Spider Woman", "Carandiru", "Shawshank", and "Papillon". Intense as hell and masterfully directed by David MacKenzie.
This was a prison movie that goes entirely against the rudiments and clichés of the genre. Rupert Friend's therapeutic group meetings create a fascinating dramatic dynamic at the centre of a film that is all about empowerment. The only real wrong note in the film was the overly melodramatic ending, as up until this hurried segue into hell the film had been supremely confident at dealing with issues of violence.
4.75* You begin the film confused, scared and nervous and you end it breathless. Jack and Ben turn in two brutal and incredible performances. Prison is terrifying, rehabilitation is hard and Mackenzie makes no concessions for his audience in making these truths absolutely clear.