Starred Up

Starred Up

Nothing brings a father and son together like prison.

Stripped cinematography of a claustrophobic, pale-yellow-walled prison; a smart, subtle, realistic debut script from Jonathan Asser, who based it on his own experiences as a voluntary therapist at HM Prison Wandsworth; and great acting from Mendelsohn and especially O'Connell, who steals the show with violent energy and reckless abandon. David Mackenzie's Starred Up manages to tell a powerful, socially relevant story—on two counts, one being familial estrangement, the other being prison corruption—with very little character context. This is an actor's film as much as it's a writer's film (my favorite combination), and it's one of the year's best.

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