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Review: Starred Up

Ken Korman says this movie about young offenders in adult prisons is caustically authentic

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"Starred Up" is British slang for prematurely bringing a young offender from juvenile detention to the harsh world of adult prisons, a practice with potentially dire consequences as depicted in Scottish director David Mackenzie's raw and caustic film. Up-and-coming British actor Jack O'Connell stars as the uncontrollably violent Eric, a 19-year-old newly transferred to a prison inhabited by his estranged and volatile father (Ben Mendelsohn) and a volunteer prison therapist (Rupert Friend) who desperately wants to save him. Shot in sequence in what was until recently a functioning prison, Starred Up pushes the envelope of authenticity down to the screenplay's reliance on obscure prison slang. The actors' thick cockney accents don't help matters — subtitles would help — but the film gradually develops into something special: a prison film with three- dimensional characters and even a faint glimmer of hope.

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Starred Up

Director: David Mackenzie

Producer: Gillian Berrie and Brian Coffey

Cast: Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend, Jack O'Connell, Sam Spruell, David Ajala, Peter Ferdinando, Anthony Welsh, Ashley Chin, David Avery and Gershwyn Eustache Jr.

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