Sven Rump’s review published on Letterboxd:
Young Eric Love is Starred Up, which basically means he gets sent to an adult prison earlier than others, due to the fact that he is high risk. In this prison he gets in trouble pretty soon, mostly thanks to his short fuse and inability to channel his emotions in any way, but his toughness gets him through quite a few scrapes. His father Neville is incarcerated in the same penitentiary and is somewhat of an influential figure there. Neville wants to belatedly provide some guidance to his son in order for him to once see the outside world again - something Neville will never again do - but Eric doesn't seem all that eager to take his dad's advice. He does seem to respond to a social worker who runs a group session, but there is something set up for Eric to fail at any point.
I thought Jack O'Connell was excellent as the highly aggressive yet severely traumatized young delinquent, as well as most of the other cast in this gritty prison drama. The only reason I didn't rate it any higher is due to the fact that it all felt very detached to me, and while this may or may not have been a deliberate choice it made me somehow less involved with the goings on onscreen. That's all very personal of course and I can more than understand the high praises this film has gotten here and elsewhere. As for me, I thought it was a very good, exceptionally acted, film that just didn't strike any real nerves with me - if that makes any sense at all.