Top positive review
120 people found this helpful
"I want to stay with you"
on 9 August 2005
Can a movie either be hard-core pornography, mainstream entertainment, or somewhere in between? Perhaps this is what director Jörg Andreas was thinking when he made Locked Up, a German film that is titillatingly explicit, but just doesn't quite go "all the way." Set in an unidentifiable German prison, Locked Up features an absolute bevy of buff, angry, and vulnerable Nordic young men, most of who look as though they have just walked off a German porn film or have wondered in from the local gay leather bar.
Filmed entirely on digital video and on what was obviously a limited budget, and also full of frontal nudity, Locked Up, although not actually "pornographic," has several carefully composed masturbatory shots, that are certainly designed to push the envelope. There's also a rather graphic male rape scene, and lots of heavily worked out muscled guys that are more than willing to "drop their draws" for effect.
Viewers should make a point of watching the extras because they are indeed a revelation: Two of the deleted scenes are brief, but decidedly pornographic - although penetration is never shown. And an extensive interview with the two lead actors, Marcel Schlutt and Mike Sale, confirm that director Jörg Andreas was, indeed, attempting to shoot some kind of quasi soft-core porno film.
The movie opens as newly incarcerated Dennis (Schlutt) is being ordered to strip naked so that the prison guard can give him a full-body and rubber-gloved cavity search - which we actually see - and it is in this scene that we get our first full and unobstructed view of the actors' goods. Dennis has just been incarcerated for credit card fraud, but he's basically a sensitive young man who is absolutely at a loss in this environment of mean, angry muscle men.
One afternoon, while gazing out of his cell window, Dennis spies a hunky, shirtless black man digging a trench. He's immediately captivated and eventually is able to make contact with him. The man's name is Mike (Mike Sale) and he is currently doing fifteen years for murdering his wife. The attraction between them both is instant and it's not long before Dennis is making clandestine trips to Mike's gaol cell. But unknown to them, their sexy assignations are being watched over by the prying eyes of a voyeuristic and kinky security guard.
Can a true relationship survive in prison, where most of the inmates are white, and where racism and homophobia are rife? Will the prison authorities eventually discover them? Mike still has six years to go of his sentence after Dennis is released, but the two of them have fallen in love - they even want to share a cell together - so what are they going to do? There's also a subplot thrown in which involves corrupt guards sell drugs to "kingpin" inmates, who, in turn, have their vulnerable lackeys spread it around.
But the plot isn't really Locked Up's strong point; because all that's really being explored is sex, and more sex, along with a bit of kinky brutality that is thrown in for good measure. The movie is all about one's muscles, and one's nether regions, so consequently we have provocative gym routines, the requisite naked showers, and furtive trysts between cellmates and their security guards. It seems as though, in this prison, absolutely everybody wants to get in on the action!
In Locked Up prison life looks more like life in a three star hotel. Inmates take their dinner in their cells rather than in the mess hall, and Mike is even allowed to keep two caged parakeets, where they are prominently displayed when he shares tin cups of coffee with Marcel. There isn't really much work going on, although there's one scene that shows Marcel hot wiring some electrical plates, but most of the time the inmates seem to be either jumping hoops on the basket ball court or fanatically working out in the fully equipped gym.
But what Locked Up fails to deliver in style in sophistication, and even realism, it certainly delivers in muscle. Schlutt is suitably boyishly hot and he has a great body. It's just a pity that he's not that animated; he spends most of his time either looking either sad or orgasmic, with no range between the two. Mike Sale's also looks great but his performance is awkward, and his line delivery is several notches below the average cue card read. It's obvious that he has little or no experience as an actor. The rest of the cast is made up of big, burly clones, complete with the requisite buzz cuts, and I suspect that most of them were probably recruited from the German porn scene.
Perhaps Locked Up is supposed to be symbolic of every gay man's fantasy? Well, maybe it does; it all depends on where you're coming from. One thing is clear though - the film is badly acted with some of the most appalling dialogue, and as far as prison stories go, not a single cliché is overlooked.
However, regardless of Locked Up's obvious shortcomings, in a strangely voyeuristic oblique way, I still liked the film. Even though I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "guilty pleasure," it was certainly provocative and provided a few good unintentional laughs. Mike Leonard August 05.