Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein reviews Starred Up, about a teenage inmate in a maximum security adult prison:
None of the inmates in the brutal British prison drama Starred Up thinks of escape or even imminent release—it’s not that kind of prison drama. The characters will be here for a long time, and they’ve accepted the hierarchy of power among the prisoners. But the newest arrival hasn’t, yet. He’s a teenager named Eric Love—he has been “starred up,” meaning transferred to an adult prison because he’s too violent for a juvenile lock-up. Eric marks his arrival by smashing furniture in his cell and making a run at the guards, chomping down on one guy’s crotch and refusing to let go. His hair-trigger hostility to authority leaves him confused when he meets two father figures. One is an earnest group therapist named Oliver Baumer. The other is his actual father, Neville Love, a dominating inmate whom Eric barely knows. The psychodrama is so thick you can cut it with a straight razor.