• James Rutherford

'Starred Up': A Terse, Razor-Sharp Prison Drama from the United Kingdom


Movie poster for the British film Starred Up starring Jack O'Connell and Ben Mendelsohn

"Starred Up" (2013) is a terse and enthralling prison drama from the UK starring Jack O'Connell as Eric Love, a troubled youth who is “starred up” by the courts due to his fractious behavior, and transferred from the youth penal system to a maximum security penitentiary. Confronted with the harsh reality of adult prison life, Eric violently rebels against the disparate forces that he faces: unsympathetic guards, fierce inmates, disillusioned administrators and his own incarcerated father, Neville (Ben Mendelsohn).

The heart of the story here revolves around the push and pull Eric struggles against between Neville, his reluctant benefactor, and the empathetic prison counselor Baumer (Rupert Friend). All three leads are dynamite in their performances, with O’Connell shining brightest as the frighteningly combustible Eric. Featuring razor-sharp direction from David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water), "Starred Up" is an achingly concise depiction of inherited violence balanced with just the slightest glimmer of hopefulness. A real treasure not to be overlooked.

 

View the trailer: