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Starred Up

What it's about: Eric (Jack O'Connell), a 19-year-old English prisoner, is "starred up," or transferred from a juvenile detention center to an adult prison for his ultraviolent behavior. While adjusting to his new life he has a life-changing meeting with an unorthodox therapist (Rupert Friend) and butts heads with his father (Ben Mendelsohn) who just so happens to be locked up, too.

How is it? This dark film is more than a gritty prison drama — it's also a touching father-son story that comes to a surprisingly sentimental conclusion. The acting is superb, particularly from Mendelsohn, who makes you feel his character's anxiety while trying to reign in his rage-aholic son, and O'Connell, who fans may remember as the scene-stealing Cook from the UK series, Skins. Jack makes Eric multifaceted — drawing you in to become sympathetic and frustrated with the troubled teen. The 23-year-old actor is definitely one to watch in the future, and his talents will hopefully take him far.

When you can see it: In theaters and VOD in August 2014.

— Maria Mercedes Lara, associate editor

Source: Sigma Films