Eric, an arrogant and ultra-violent hooligan, has just been transferred from his juvenile prison to a adult prison facility which just so happens to be where his estranged father resides. Carrying an explosive temper in with him, Eric quickly finds himself making enemies with both inmates and prison authorities alike, even pushing his volatile relationship with his father to an all new level. David Mackenzie's Starred Up is a relentless, uncompromising portrayal of prison that is unquestionably elevated by its lead performances. While Jack Connell has been garnering much deserved attention for playing Eric, Ben Mendelsohn is equally impressive as his tough, somewhat empathetic father. Jack Connell brings a combustible edge to his performance that is entrancing to be sure, but Ben Mendelsohn creates a much more complicated and intriguing character, who the audience themselves is unsure of his true intentions. Through these two fantastic performances Starred Up creates a genuine portrait of the sociology behind the hellish subculture of inmates, never making excuses but attempting to simply present the ecosystem these men inhabit in prison. The film shows how dangerous these men are but also how damaged they are, commenting on the institutional corruption and lack of interest in rehabilitation. While Starred Up is full of explosive sequences, the quieter moments are when the film truly excels, taking on an almost reflective-state, attempting to capture what it must be like for a prisoner who is alone only with their own thoughts. David Mackenzie's Starred Up is a solid film with great performances, tackling many of the same issues addressed in the sub-genre.
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