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dir-scr Craig Viveiros
prd Rupert Bryan, James Friend, Craig Viveiros
with John Lynch, Martin Compston, Craig Parkinson, Amanda Abbington, David Schofield, Art Malik, Peter Wight, Roger Evans, Neil Maskell, Hugh Quarshie, Andy Linden, Joshua Osei
release UK 24.Jun.11
Good Samaritans: Lynch and Malik
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
This dark British prison drama is a bit too overwrought to keep us engaged right to the end. Without much subtlety, it tells an inflammatory, somewhat contrived story of guilt and redemption. But the actors make it worth seeing.
After four years in prison, on the anniversary of his young son's death, Jack (Lynch) finds out that his wife is leaving him. Meanwhile, new young inmate Paul (Compston) is quickly taken under the wing of tough-guy Clay (Parkinson). Seeing this, Jack and his friend Ahmed (Malik) start to worry about Paul's safety. Sure enough, things turn violent, so Jack arranges to help Paul cope with the situation and becomes his mentor-protector. But there are more tensions brewing between various factions of inmates, and clearly things are going to get much worse.
The film's quiet internalised tone is involving, Although the gentle photography and editing make it feel a bit simplistic, mainly because it's shot primarily in close-up, like a TV show complete with a moody score that punctuates every emotion. And the dialog is written to deliberately obscure certain plot points until writer-director Viveiros is ready to reveal them. This makes the movie feel rather obvious and preachy, like Viveiros is trying to provoke a reaction from us rather than letting the story play out honestly.
Fortunately the level of acting is especially strong, making the characters intriguing enough to draw us into the situation. They also make the inter-relationships deeply interesting, hinting at all kinds of connections and tensions that aren't really in the script. The premise itself is very strong, and as it continues, we want to know more about the characters and the shifting connections between them. Even if the plotting feels both contrived and undercooked, it's consistently engaging.
The title refers to prison-speak for an inmate who disappears, so we're pretty sure this isn't going to end happily. Especially when sentimental home-movie flashbacks are stirred into the mix. Plus guards who are either shady (Schofield) or ineffectual (Abbington). And sure enough, as we finally hear the details of Jack's and Paul's stories, the climax plays out with weighty doses of horror and irony that are just a bit too much.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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