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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Movie Review - Starred Up

Starred Up (2014)
Starring Jack O'Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, and Rupert Friend
Directed by David Mackenzie
***This film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime***

Gritty and seemingly realistic (although I admittedly am fortunately unfamiliar with the setting), Starred Up is a solid prison tale that adds an interesting twist to the genre as father and son inmates try to reign supreme despite their decidedly hot tempers which wreak a bit of havoc amongst those on their cell block.  Jack O'Connell is the young Eric Love who is transferred to an adult British prison (a practice known as being "starred up") and immediately decides to puff his chest and show his strength by trying to harm a prison guard.  While this would typically place an inmate into solitary confinement, Eric lucks out as his father Neville (Ben Mendelsohn) just so happens to be in the same prison and just so happens to be well-liked by the officers and guards.  Neville is able to work out a deal that places his son into a rehabilitation program where he meets with Oliver Baumer (Rupert Friend) several times a week with a few other prisoners in a group therapy-type setting in hopes that the nineteen year-old Eric can become less angry and more "functioning" as he spends nearly a decade in prison.

As mentioned, director David Mackenzie and screenwriter Jonathan Asser have crafted a gritty flick here with a character in Eric that is disarmingly unpleasant.  Jack O'Connell does a great job of showcasing the youth's visceral dislike for authority and violent tendencies towards everyone.  Ben Mendelsohn is also eerily unsavory as Eric's father -- how does he get what he wants?  Why does he have pull in the prison?  The answers aren't necessarily appealing.

Admittedly, I found the accents in this one a bit harsh to this American's ear and I did find that I had to watch the flick with subtitles in order to fully grasp what was going on.  However, Starred Up is a solid piece of filmmaking with an impressively scarily realistic turn from Jack O'Connell who's certainly seeing his star rise in recent months.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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