Young Adam and Hallam Foe.
To do this, Mackenzie utilises a stripped-down and sparse directorial style (there's a complete absence of non-diegetic sound, for instance). Whilst it doesn't quite reach the docu-realist heights of Alan Clarke, the director is still able to etch out a very credible and authentic prison environment. He jettisons most of the clichés - save for the boo-hiss warden (Sam Spruell) - and it's refreshing to see a prison drama which doesn't choose to wallow in the dark depths of unremitting bleakness. O'Connell offers glimmers of humanity under his raging exterior and Mendelsohn's chameleon-like qualities get pushed to the fore once again; he's also utterly mesmerising. The finale, whilst gripping, lumbers into the kind of conventional dramatic fare the film so strenuously avoids until that point, but this is a minor quibble. Starred Up is a sterling effort by all involved, and thoroughly deserves a place within the canon of great British prison dramas.
You could win a DVD copy of David Mackenzie's Starred Up with our latest competition. Follow this link to enter.