Milez Das’s review published on Letterboxd:
Prison movies many a times are about the convict being innocent and the duel between him and the Warden of the prison. Then there's the politics, groups, godfathers existing in those cells. Living in a n environment of those four walls, barely seeing the outside world, hanging around with one of the most violent criminals can be unsettling.
Eric Love is a 19 year old who has been just transfered to Adult Prison. He meets with his estranged father Neville who hasn't seen him since five years old now. Because his abandonment Eric's life till now has been in violent outbursts and troubling.
Neville tries to shape him up with being hard and strict but the problem here is that with his violent behavior he has already started to make enemies. Neville tries to send Eric into a group where he can learn to be calm and behave himself.
Starred Up is more about the characters rather than the prison itself. The set up is cleared the moment Eric walks in and starts to introduce himself. Eric's violent nature is something more about his anger towards his father and his abandonment. even we see him mentioning that his mother was also no good to him. He is bought up in a way that he had to be aggressive in nature to get something.
Neville who is trying to be his father who has been out of touch for past 14 years of his life. He knows the one thing of parenting is that to be disciplined, even when Eric is trying to be calmer and share Neville tries and fucks it up. Eric's anger is more directed towards his father rather than whomever he is beating.
The final moments of this film show how Neville tries to amend his way to Eric, at many ways they both are the same person of a coin which both sides are either heads or tails. Even their moments of affection is rather unusual because they never really gotten the affection themselves.
From the Director of Hell or High Water David Mackenzie perfectly captures the essence of the environment and the characters. He develops Eric is a way that you see him growing in his own way.
Jack O'Connell as Eric Love is just perfect blend of everything. I have seen Jack from his days in Skins. Jack can handle the the troubled behavior to perfection but what impresses me most about him is that in matter of seconds he can get into the dramatic nature of the scene even to the humor part.
Ben Mendelsohn as Neville Love captures a nature of father trying to protect his son. He doesn't know how to really handle or parent him but he tries. It was good to see Rupert Friend out of Homeland.
Starred Up is incredibly made drama within the set up of the prison confinement. It focuses on the characters and shows hoe they grow slowly and gradually.