For a film that seemed to come out of nowhere, with a limited advertisement campaign and small budget, Starred Up has proved to be one of the more ballsy pictures released in some time - and with a UK release date sandwiched between two major blockbuster sequels, it had to do something to stand out from the crowd.
The main attribute of the film is its acting, most notably central character Jack O'Connell; a career-best performance from our lead protagonist serves as the driving force of the film, immersing the audience so much in the drama of it all that we can't believe we're feeling sorry for the prick we thought we knew in the opening stages.
However we all know that good acting doesn't necessarily constitute a good film; but placing such talent in the hands of David Mackenzie and providing a gripping (albeit unoriginal) story line is a damn good combination.
Despite the many positives, where this film fails is in the variety of on-screen shenanigans. Although it does slowly progress, the day-to-day life on the inside seems repetitive and predictable, particularly when the overall message is all too familiar and practically clichéd.
All in all however, Starred Up is one of the best prison dramas in a long time, and probably the best British film this year. Not for the faint-hearted, this superbly acted drama will scare you into following the law to the strictest command.