trolleyfreak’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's fair to say that I'm generally more of a fan of prison escape movies than prison life movies: give me A Man Escaped, Escape From Alcatraz, Le Trou - especially Le Trou! - and even TV sitcom spin-off Porridge over, say, In The Name Of The Father and the first half of McVicar, but David Mackenzie's brutal drama really grabbed my attention..... eventually!
Let me explain...
I watched this late at night and for the first hour, maybe due to over tiredness, I was really struggling to focus and I was having difficulty picking up the dialogue and the prison 'slang' - apart from the copious 'effing and blinding, that is! - and decided to switch on the subtitles to help me out, which coincided with the incendiary final section of the film, a section which took the film to a whole other level for me and had me going to bed thinking I'd got a three-star movie on my hands..
Then I woke up early this morning and I couldn't get the film out of my head, especially the last half hour or so, and as I had some time on my hands I decided to watch the first hour again - the hour I couldn't focus on last night - only this time with the subs switched on from the beginning, and this time I was able to pick up the nuances I'd missed first time around and focus on the heart of the film - the relationship between father and son - and appreciate the power of the performances given by Jack O'Connell and Ben Mendelsohn, performances which show the vulnerability behind the necessary 'tough guy' exteriors needed to survive in such a hostile environment.
A very good bordering on great film and one which, after a second viewing, I think warrants being 'starred up' from three stars to four!
Big thanks to the person who put me onto this film, a film I probably wouldn't have watched without their intervention.
You know who you are... ;)