Superbly acted and brilliantly directed, Starred Up presents us with one of the most realistic prison films we’ve ever seen. You forget you’re watching a movie and immediately get brought into this world of brutality and subversiveness.
We have Eric (Jack O’Connell) who gets starred up–or prematurely moved from a juvenile detention to an adult prison–and finds that his father (Ben Mendelsohn) is there too.
The script brilliantly draws contemplative parallels between the hierarchies within the prison system, as well as the circular despondency that it creates. It also portrays a father-son relationship in a way that I don’t think has really ever been done in cinema.
Everything works how you would want it to in a film of this nature. It’s just never clear as to why Eric or his dad are in prison to begin with.
Starred Up leaves a couple of questions unanswered, but never strays from the realistic atmosphere it sets for itself. It’s definitely hard to watch and the characters’ banter might be just as difficult to understand–so you might want to use subtitles.