Jacob’s review published on Letterboxd:
Starred Up is simultaneously one of the more entertaining and most realistic prison dramas to break out of the genre in recent years. The story sees Eric Love, a rage fuelled nineteen-year-old, take on the world of an adult prison. He's not content to lay low and keep his head down, he's got nothing to lose and the slightest insult provokes a full scale attack of retribution. But his actions are attracting all the wrong attention...
Jack O'Connell lends his character a great physicality with just the right touch of bravado and audaciousness to pull you alongside. A career making performance. There are moments when you can only grin at the sheer wrongheadedness of Eric's actions. Ben Mendelsohn delivers, what is for me, a career best performance here, blending so thoroughly into his character of Eric's father, Neville. Between the two and a great support cast, the film is a showcase of acting talent.
Where Starred Up really succeeds is that it never falls into the well worn path of forcing its audience to experience the grim reality of life in the prison and hopelessness in Eric's situation. Between the script and director, David Mackenzie, this manages to deftly walk the delicate line between humour and violence, and so, in the film's closing scenes, the emotional truth and depth of feeling really hits home.