By James Diedrick (Middlesbrough)
Starred Up is a British Prison Film Drama made in 2013 directed by David Mackenzie. Jack O’Connell comes into this drama as an already established British actor on the verge on making his move on the mountain that is Hollywood.
Now, where to start describing this film? In short, it’s brilliant! A well worked and gripping drama with a captivating story and covers some very compelling and traumatic issues that can be faced in prison life.
The story makes its start with the lead character (Jack O’Connell) making A progression from a young offenders institution to adult jail. A lot of people can pull off a character whose is emotionally scarred and twisted but this film gives Jack O’Connell the creative scope to add depth and reason to his character which makes the audience connect with a character that the audience members perhaps do not see in everyday life. As the story progresses it delves deeper into the thoughts and the worries of the main character which can make a viewer have some serious hard thoughts.
The direction and the pace of this film is something to be marvelled at times, as not once did I feel bored or look to see how far along the story was. Whether this was helped with the fact that this film was actually film chronologically alongside the script is a question for David Mackenzie? However, I would offer top credits. Another point on the direction of this film is that it has done a wonderful job to bring in other characters to the story without forcing them upon the main character therefore developing relationships that the audience can actually relate to rather than thinking ‘Who the fucks he?’
Family issues can always be tough to portray effectively especially in a ‘prison’ based film however this film has done a truly tremendous job of highlighting family issues that we all face in our lives as well and issues that arise due to unique situation. Ben Mendelsohn instrumental roles as the lead characters father brings a grit and steel to this film as only Ben Mendelsohn could. Also 99% of scenes in this film with Jack and Ben incontrovertibly unmissable.
As far as I can tell it was little wonder that this film would turn heads and so it seem to do after being nominated and winning various awards including a Best Supporting Actor Award for Mendelsohn (hardly a surprise). All in all this is a film that is well paced, gripping and with some truly brilliant acting performances.
Lastly there must be a mention for Jonathan Asser (writer) this story comes from his experiences of working as a voluntary therapist at HM Prison Wandsworth. After to watching this film you do get the sense that parts of this story could/probably did happen although there is no indication of any elements being ‘True Life’ you can’t help but get the feeling that there has to be more to this story than can be seen by the eye. all of this being a true testament to chemistry and congeniality of the cast. A film well done.