CinemaCl🎃wn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Brutal, unflinching & downright intense, Starred Up tells the story of a young convict who's transferred to adult prison due to his extremely violent behaviour where he meets his father after a long time. The plot follows the harshness of imprisoned life and covers his journey as his father attempts to get him to settle down so that he can go through therapy.
Directed by David Mackenzie, Starred Up takes a no-holds-barred approach to brings its violent tale to life and retains its viciousness throughout its runtime. The script keeps the focus on its lead character who is unable to keep his rage in control and through him, the plot captures not only the menacing life behind bars but the devastating effects of violent upbringing as well.
Production design team manages to recreate the grim atmosphere of prison, Camerawork is carried out in a controlled manner although it misses out on encapsulating the picture with a claustrophobic ambiance, Editing is brilliant for it never cuts up too quick and effectively sustains the build-up tension, Music is virtually absent, but the strongest aspect of Starred Up is its performances.
The cast comprises of Jack O'Connell, Ben Mendelsohn & Rupert Friend, with all of them chipping in with strong work. O'Connell is an absolute revelation for the way he expresses his stuffed-up emotions & sudden burst of anger is utterly convincing, Plus, he effortlessly makes us believe that his character is a byproduct of a childhood filled with trauma & abuse, and that he's not a bad person per se.
On an overall scale, Starred Up is a highly engaging, relentlessly aggressive & unforgiving British prison drama that benefits from Mackenzie's terrific direction & O'Connell's winning performance, offers an interesting take on father-son dynamics set in a brutal environment, and has much to say about people guarding the prison as it ends up saying about the prisoners behind bars. A raw, evocative & hard-hitting flick, Starred Up comes recommended.