Starred Up

Starred Up ★★★★½

Before press screenings of Starred Up, critics were handed a comprehensive glossary of British prison slang. That piece of paper was very...educational, the idioms on it ranging from your basic jail verbs (“top” = “to kill," “kick off the back door” = “anal sex”) to more curious slang like “bacon” (any type of sex offender) and “fraggle” (a vulnerable prisoner).

Needless to say, it was a most ominous harbinger of the film that was about to start—you don’t get a sheet like that before settling in for Planes: Fire and Rescue. But what makes Starred Up such an intense and riveting experience is that, despite the often unintelligible brogues in which its characters speak, director David Mackenzie’s essential new film so vividly depicts the cutthroat culture of prison life that nothing gets lost in translation.