Friday, September 19, 2014

Starred Up Movie Review

Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn (r) in Starred Up 

Like Father, Like Son

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: 19-year-old Eric (Jack O'Connell, star of the upcoming UNBROKEN), arrogant and ultra-violent, is prematurely transferred to the same adult prison facility as his estranged father (Ben Mendelsohn, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES). As his explosive temper quickly finds him enemies in both prison authorities and fellow inmates - and his already volatile relationship with his father is pushed past breaking point - Eric is approached by Oliver, a volunteer psychotherapist (Rupert Friend, "Homeland"), who runs an anger management group for prisoners. Torn between gang politics, prison corruption, and a glimmer of something better, Eric finds himself in a fight for his own life, unsure if his own father is there to protect him or join in punishing him. Written by prison system therapist Jonathan Asser, STARRED UP is a merciless, uncompromising portrayal of a dehumanizing life behind bars, and the most accomplished film of David Mackenzie's career; as father and son, Mendelsohn and O'Connell give extraordinary performances, charting a path that resembles Greek tragedy.

Starred Up isn't your typical prison movie: Sure it's violent (it is prison, after all) and occasionally difficult to watch (you should see where they hide cell phones) but few movies tackle prison life from as many angles, and so effectively. O'Connell is sensational as a surprisingly seasoned "young offender," who's ready to move up to the Majors; while Mendelsohn sparkles as a hard-nosed father, determined to keep his son from following in his troubled footsteps. Rehabilitation is seen as a means to cope and repair: Friend's Oliver holds out hope; but is that enough, in a place like this?