Starred Up

Starred Up ★★★★½

''Starred Up means you're leader.''

An undeniable instant classic that deserves all the praise that has been heaped upon it, with a break-out performance from Jack O'Connell as a violent juvenile prisoner who is transferred to an adult facility where he has to face up to his father (yet another memorable performance from Aussie star Ben Mendelsohn). From such a simple premise, a finely nuanced drama blossoms to allow the layered themes and father/son dynamic to flourish, and even when the danger of cliché threatens to take the film down a path we have seen one too many times (a therapy type subplot involving Rupert Friend), filmmaker David Mackenzie knows exactly how to play it so the film never falters. The storytelling is mostly visual, and without the aid of subtitles, many would struggle with the thick accents and prison lingo, but that is just how the Director wants it to be seen (I cheated and watched it with subs). A tense but incredibly moving piece of cinema, that can sit proudly alongside A Prophet, Chopper and Bronson as one of the best examples of the prison experience captured on film.

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