[This is a re-post of my review from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Starred Up opens today in limited release and is also available on VOD.]
In movies, a father/son bond can be repaired in various ways: A game of catch, a cross-country road trip, or a death in the family to name a few. Starred Up finds a new one by putting the reconciliation inside a prison, and showing the attempts of a father to protect his reckless son from getting murdered by other inmates. Supported by excellent performances from Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn, director David Mackenzie and screenwriter Jonathan Asser have removed the schmaltz from the father/son story by taking two men who aren’t just estranged; they’re both violent and dangerous in a volatile environment. The filmmakers then proceed to further expand the story by offering the son different support structures and choices that further complicate his familial relationship.