There's a gentle authenticity to the film that helps us cope with the rather over-familiar setting and the lack of much heightened prison grit or intense bursts of energy (this certainly isn't Oz!). It's almost like a stage play, with its use of prison lingo that's still intelligible, the muted on-screen violence and the overall funny-creepy tone. Horror is a constant threat in both the script and direction, and there's a real growing sense of dread as events progress and we wonder what might happen to these men. Both Furlong and Dafoe deliver strong, understated performances, as do most of the supporting performers (such as Buscemi as a prison official, Heard as Ron's helpless father), while others take the opportunity to really chew on the scenery (Arnold as a sleazy stalker, Rourke as Ron's cross-dressing cellmate). The film feels like a 1970s prison film with its grainy images, straightforward direction, jazzy score (by John Lurie) and the standard plot. But it's efficiently made, and it's nice to see a prison film centre a core friendship rather than all the sensational stuff we usually have to wade through.
dir Steve Buscemi|
scr Edward Bunker
with Edward Furlong, Willem Dafoe, Danny Trejo, Tom Arnold, Mickey Rourke, Steve Buscemi, John Heard, Seymour Cassel, Jake La Botz, Mark Webber, Mark Engelhardt, Edward Bunker
release US 13.Oct.00; UK 4.Jul.03
The rookie and the veteran. Ron and Earl (Furlong and Dafoe) cope with life behind bars...
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