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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 April 2016
David Mackenzie’s brutally realistic depiction of the dehumanising environment existing in modern-day prisons and the valiant attempts at rehabilitation makes for an absorbing (and eventually rather moving) watch, as well as perhaps providing something of a case study for Justice Minister Michael Gove (the storyline having been based on the real-life experience of ‘prison therapist’ Jonathan Asser, who also wrote the screenplay for Mackenzie’s film)! Mackenzie is certainly uncompromising in his depiction of the claustrophobic, anarchic, corrupt and (endlessly) violent prison regime into which Jack O’Connell’s 'starred up’ (i.e. 'promoted’ from 'borstal’ to adult prison) prisoner, Eric Love, finds himself ensconced, with all the associated macho kudos as a 'marked man’.

O’Connell is a rising star of British cinema (equally compelling in the Northern Irish troubles drama, ’71) and here, again, he is the class act on show, mixing bouts of violent volatility, cocky humour and (eventually) 'reluctant’ humanity, very impressively. Almost as impressive is Ben Mendelsohn, subtly introduced to us as Eric’s (past) neglectful father and now fellow inmate, Neville. Mendelsohn, who was superb in the Australian crime drama Animal Kingdom, is again impressive (if a little less restrained) here, even if he struggles more than Derby-born O’Connell to (convincingly) master the 'cockney geezer’ accent. The theme of rehabilitation is central to Mackenzie’s film, which nicely plays up the class differences between Eric and Rupert Friend’s ('Oxfordshire’) prison therapist and do-gooder, Oliver Baumer, and the group therapy sessions provide some of the film’s most engaging (and less predictable) moments. Mackenzie’s film skilfully examines the (increasingly positive) impact of the rehabilitation on Eric, affecting his relationship with his father and provoking reaction from the corrupt prison authorities (amongst whom Sam Spruell impresses as the callous prison governor).

Whilst Mackenzie’s film is certainly not for the faint-hearted and does not always entirely convince, it eventually morphs into quite a perceptive and moving drama, as well as, in O’Connell, showcasing one of the UK cinema’s most promising acting talents.
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on 2 April 2016
Im in shock........within 2 weeks i have now seen two british films that actually work - and both of them starring the very excellent jack o connell. The first was '71' which surprised me with its realistic portrayal of ireland during the troubles. Nearly as good is this film which, even though its yet another 'cockney geezer' movie, actually works

Unlike the simply atrocious 'lock stock' 'football factory' 'footsoldier' 'bonded by blood' run of 'cockney geeeeeeezerrrrrrrr' films, the acting and dialogue here are pretty realistic. Theres a few hiccups - a couple of fight scenes that are a bit dubious and a bit over-the-top in parts, but 99% of the time it hits the mark. The main reason for this is the inclusion of jack o connell who is without doubt the finest british actor of his generation. Ive now seen him in 3 films where his talent has shone like a beacon (the other was the very excellent 'edens lake') - and hes a joy to watch. Highest reccomendations must go to him and his co-star ben mendelsohn here too for the ACCENTS. O connell is from derbyshire, mendelsohn is from australia. Yet, quite unbelivably, they both manage to do a very authentic london accent! (and being a londoner myself i was listening closely) - usually when non-londoners are cast in london roles the resulting accent is pretty embarrasing (charlie hummon in the godawful 'green street' being a prime example) - but both actors are spot on here and its a testament to their acting talents that they can do this - as its an EXTREMELY hard thing to pull off

To the producers of this film (and '71') - thanks. Youve revived my faith in the british film industry
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on 6 July 2015
Starred up is a hard hitting British prison drama I haven't seen scum so I can't compare between the two movies but Jack O' Connell delivers a excellent performance as Eric a troubled youth getting moved to adult prison life isn't all that easy for Eric and has to be taught how to survive the brutal side of adult prison life of course the movie is not for everyone with it's strong language and violence but if you don't mind that and want to watch a good British prison movie starred up is definitely for you
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on 30 July 2014
Young Eric (Jack O'Connell) is transferred to an adult prison. He is not new to the prison scene and knows what to do to protect himself. There are elements within the prison that want to see Eric succeed and leave, while there are other elements that are not on his side. His estranged father Neville (Ben Mendelsohn) is also there. Neville is a harden criminal who wants to suddenly be a father and see his son succeed against the odds

About an hour into the film, the phrase "Starred Up" is explained. The film is a gritty jail film which includes the usual violence but goes easy on the back door stuff. It was interesting to watch Eric as he was always full of surprises.

Parental Guide: F-bomb. Male nudity (Jack O' Connell)
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on 1 April 2016
Step forward the first great British film of 2014. An immersive and brutal prison survival story that showcases a stand out performance from Jack O' Connell. The lead is also supported by great performances from Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend.
It's true the prison survival story has been done many times before but in my opinion, never in such an honest, riveting and unforgettable way. This is a film that will stay with you long after the credits draw to a close.
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VINE VOICEon 18 January 2015
Eric is a young offender moving up to an adult prison for the first time. He finds his father running the wings and has to learn how to survive one of Britain's toughest prisons. Superb performances from an upcoming British cast. Brutal and coming across like a modern day version of British film Scum, this has to be up there with the all time great prison movies. Jack O'Connell is a name to watch.
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on 1 December 2014
I found this a honest but raw film. I have no experience or what so ever of the life within a adult prison, but I can imagine it is like in the movie. Jack O'Donnell plays a good role as Eric, who wants his place between the adult inmates, but sometimes is a frightened boy of just 19 years in the wrong place to be!
Good British movie. Good acting!
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on 9 October 2014
Films set in or around prison are a favourite of mine, and some of the best films and tv drama series ever made can be included in this category e.g. Shawshank Redemption, Oz, A Prophet, Escape From Alcatraz, Scum..
I found Starred Up to be in no less impressive. It's an intense, gritty and powerful film with some amazing performances.
The story revolves around Eric (Jack O'Connell) being transferred to an adult prison at the age of 19 - two years prematurely. It's clear from early on that this guy has some serious deep rooted problems that go beyond just trying to hold your own in a brutal world of predators and prey. Bristling with attitude and pent up rage, he respects no-one, and wastes no time getting under the skin of fellow prisoners and guards alike. Inevitably his outbursts soon draw the attention of the wings' more 'influential' figures, one of whom happens to be Eric's own father, Nev (Ben Mendelsohn), who despite having effectively abandoned Eric as a young child due to his own incarceration, still manages to retain 'some' control and influence over his son where all others fail. Yet even this restraint slips after awhile, and it's left to the well meaning if slightly out of his depth prison social worker to attempt to connect with Eric and save him from himself.
Initially I found myself hating O'Connell's portrayal of Eric - he's basically a cocky, mouthy little sh*t with a bad attitude and a powder keg temper - but as the layers are peeled back, you start to understand the nature of the behaviour, and feel at least an affinity for the guy.
My favourite character was Nev. At his core he loves his son, but he cannot express it and they cannot connect. A long time prisoner, Nev takes his comfort elsewhere, and this revelation proves to be the tipping point in an already strained, volatile relationship. It takes a singular huge event to bring them back from the precipice, and when this happens, I actually found it to be a very moving scene.
Both these guys are superb actors. Great supporting cast. Great film
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on 25 October 2014
Great film , next best thing to scum! Worth the price and more!
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on 30 January 2016
I used to work in a prison so I was very interested in this film. It is actually a fair reflection of what used to happen in jails. Not so much now. Obviously the boundaries of truth are stretched a bit to make it interesting.
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