LAFF Reviews: Starred Up and Runoff
by Kristen Sales
The British crime picture is a seemingly ubiquitous genre, and its sister sub-genre, the prison film, is nearly as popular, with Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson kicking off a renaissance of sorts. Like Bronson, David Mackenzie’s Starred Up centers on a charismatic and explosively violent inmate, Eric (Jack O’Connell). Just nineteen, Eric has been relocated from juvie to the big house, a claustrophobic expanse of cross-hatched steel bars, teeming with hardened criminals for whom seething anger is their resting state. One of the hardest of these inmates is Neville (the terrifically menacing Ben Mendelsohn), who just happens to be Eric’s father. Neville is none too pleased to see his son making trouble and upsetting the hierarchy of power on the cell block, so he coerces Eric to attend group therapy sessions to curb and harness his anger. The group is led by Oliver (Rupert Friend), a volunteer whose own personal demons attract him to the violently anti-social prisoners he mentors.
Starred Up Grade: A-
Runoff Grade: B+
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