Starred Up

Starred Up ★★★½

Hardly groundbreaking, Starred Up (which refers to the slang for a youth prisoner prematurely bumped up to an adult jail) excels in gritty authenticity and a bruising, bare-knuckle brutality. Dominating proceedings is Skins star Jack O’Connell as ferocious force of nature Eric Love, a belligerent, bolshy, explosively violent teenage thug who generally lets his fists do the talking for him, and finds himself raging against authority in both penal and paternal guises.
With its pull no punches mentality and unflinching eye for realistic violence and credible dialogue, this will clearly draw comparisons with Alan Clarke’s abrasive output, and obviously Scum in particular, which this could almost be a latter-day sequel to. But there’s an underlying sense of atonement and reconciliation here, as at its core, playing out between all the anger and outbursts and shower-room savagery, there’s a poignant father/son relationship drama, which stays just the right side of sentimentality, aided considerably by the strength of the performances from both O’Connell and the equally imposing Ben Mendelsohn.
Starred Up is an impressively raw, rugged, bleakly brutal journey, but as the saying goes – there’s an awful lot of Shawshank here before this reaches the Redemption.

John (Magic Rat Movies) liked these reviews