Indie Gems: Starred Up

Punch first, think later.

Eric (Jack O'Connell) is 19 and has recently been "starred up" from a juvenile facility to an adult prison due to his violent behavior. He ends up in the same wing as his estranged father, Neville (Ben Mendelsohn) who attempts to micromanage his son's life on the inside. He also bonds with Oliver (Rupert Friend) a counselor who is determined to rehabilitate him.

Despite following a similar formula that prison dramas tend to abide by, Starred Up is pushed beyond that due to the powerful performances. Admittedly, I haven't seen a lot of O'Connell's work, but he was brilliant here. He perfectly embodied Eric in all his anger and trauma he has suffered. Same with Mendelsohn as his father. I found Neville to be rather annoying, but towards the end of the film it becomes very obvious why he's acting that way. I have to give Friend credit as well. I've been referring to him as the "poor man's Orlando Bloom" since I saw him in Pride and Prejudice, but he's probably the better actor. Touche, asshole me. 

This is a very hard drama. It's shot entirely in the prison and there isn't even a score to accompany it. There's little room for light moments (though the prisoners drink from ceramic mugs with their names painted on them in big purple letters, that amused me. It's like they made them in an art class or something) but it works perfectly for the tone. It definitely lived up to the hype from Alex and Josh

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "You are fucking embarrassing. You are pathetic." - Eric (Jack O'Connell)

12 comments:

  1. The core three performances (Mendelsohn, O'Connell and Friend) are tremendous here. Friend surprised me, too. Like...such subtle power in his convictions here.

    And, how can you be a poor man's Orlando Bloom when, like, Orlando Bloom is the poor man's Orlando Bloom?

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    1. LOL. Well, that's true now, but it wasn't true back in 2003-05 when I first figured out who Rupert Friend was.

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  2. This sounds excellent. I started watching it once, but I was having trouble understanding the dialogue, and there were no subtitles. I have a mild auditory processing problem, and I often have difficulty with strong accents. :-) But I'll give it another go.

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    1. I get it with the subtitles. I actually ended up turning them on for part of this too. I like to make sure I'm hearing things right.

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  3. Ha. I was already in by the header, but this sounds really interesting! And if you three vouch for it...then what the f--k am I waiting for, you know?

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    1. You should definitely check it out! It's worth it.

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  4. I absolutely love this movie! From the performances by the trio of actors to the cinematography to the writing to how there is an absent score to maintain the film's realism. Terrific yet largely underrated gem. Great review!

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, all those people talking about Unbroken for O'Connell last year probably should've been looking at this.

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  5. this movie is INTENSE. I loved it, one of my top favorites from last year! O'Connell really was brilliant.

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    1. He was excellent. I haven't seen a lot of his filmography, but I imagine this has to be one of his best.

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  6. Thanks for the link! O'Connell and Mendelsohn are amazing, and Friend is great, too. Like, it's awesome that you loved this movie!

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    1. You are welcome! Thanks for talking about it!

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No seriously, post one. I need attention.