WARNING - This post contains extreme swearwords and willy references. Last week I was very kindly invited by The Debrief, a brilliant new online publication, to an advance screening of the devastatingly powerful 'Starred Up'.
"Starred Up" is a phrase used for young offenders so violent or troublesome that they have to be transferred to an adult prison. 19 year old Eric Love, played by Jack O'Connell of Skins fame, arrives at such a prison, bringing with him some serious anger-management issues. The film explores his relationships, or lack of, with the inmates, one of whom is his own father Neville Love, and with prison therapy worker Oliver (Rupert Friend).
This is not Prison Break, there are no elaborate plans to escape, in fact as the film goes on we begin to realise just how little hope there is for a character like Eric to fully rehabilitate into the outside world again. It is a film in which so much happens, brutal attack following brutal attack, and yet nothing happens. Director David Mackenzie has us hooked with the personal struggles of each character but never loses that bleak sense of nothingness - the claustrophobic realisation that these inmates will never be able to return to normality as we know it.
Authenticity is key, and nothing is censored. You will hear the word 'cunt' more times than you thought possible and don't even get me started on the 'fuck's'. Blood, sweat and ball-biting - Jack O'Connell is like a caged animal, explosive and unpredictable. In one rather memorable shower scene, a fully naked Jack flails around on the shower-room floor and despite the gravity of the situation I must admit I struggled to contain myself (willy haha... willy).
Despite this being one of the most brutal films I've ever seen I still managed to shed a tear in one of the few poignant moments between father and son, proving that I really am the world's biggest wetter. Get a grip Phoebe!
Here are a selection of three word reviews which sum up my thoughts on the film...
1. Gritty As Fuck
2. Nice Bod Jack
3. Many Gratuitous Swearwords
4. Violently Maddening Loneliness
5. Worth A Watch
Starred up is out in cinemas on 21st March 2014, and I would highly recommend seeing it. Maybe don't go with your parents and probably best to avoid it as a first-date film, but if you want gripping, award-winning British drama, you've come to the right place. Probably best to take yourself straight home after the viewing and avoid social situations as even I felt like swaggering down the street and kicking someone in the balls just for the hell of it!
If you want to see more, here's Jack and director David Mackenzie talking to Film4 about the making of Starred Up.