A story about a troubled boy growing up in England, set in 1983. He comes across a few skinheads on his way home from school, after a fight. They become his new best friends even like family. Based on experiences of director Shane Meadows.
Ron, who's young, slight, and privileged, is sentenced to prison on marijuana charges. For whatever reason, he brings out paternal feelings in an 18-year prison veteran, Earl Copan, who takes Ron under his wing. The film explores the nature of that relationship, Ron's part in Earl's gang, and the way Ron deals with aggressive cons intent on assault and rape. There's casual racism, too, in the prisoners and the guards, a strike called by Black prisoners, and the nearly omnipresence of hard drugs. Ron's lawyer is working on getting Ron out quickly, Earl has a shot at parole, and death seems to be waiting in the next cell. Will prison turn Ron into an animal? Written by
Whew. What can I say. This was a fascinating film that was very hard to turn away from (even to answer the phone!). Edward Furlong turns in another very solid performance as a too-young-to-be-in-this-type-of-place prisoner and Willem Dafoe was very interesting as his would-be mentor.
Prison films are always tough to make as they tend to lean heavily upon stereotypes (the prisoner who runs the prison, male rape scenes, the violence in the prison yard) and this film is no exception. Buscemi gets away with it by making it all seem so workaday and routine, which in some ways is even more frightening.
Overall I enjoyed this film but I imagine the audience for a stark prison flick is pretty small. Kudos to Buscemi for having the nerve to make it, tho.
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