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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Interesting & moving stories told to a heavy beat

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
9 February 2003

A documentary film crew go into Feltham young offenders prison where the teenagers who left are 75% likely to re-offend. The film talks to a handful of inmates about life in prison and how they got there in the first place. Oh yeah - and it's a musical!

My plot summary doesn't really do the film justice. The inmates aren't actually interviewed they are allowed a small amount of time to just talk to camera with no questions being asked that we hear. However they are given only a little time to talk, most of their stories are told via music with each inmate either rapping, singing or reading poetry.

If this sounds awful it isn't. The lyrics of all the songs are of more value that just talking as they are true stories well told and the poetry was specially written by Simon Armitage. The tunes are all great, especially if you're into hip hop. The hip hop tunes are all tight and very well written and all the inmates have skills. One of the songs was doubtful as the guy couldn't sing but the lyrics are bang on and the poetry didn't really fit the mood of the programme that well.

All the participants have tragic stories - many start drugs at 11 or 12 and just move on from there. The film's main weakness is that it shows it's colours too strongly at times - we don't see any inmates who turned to crime for love of money or who are simply violent people with no reason, the line is very much about pitying them rather than punishing them because society made them this way. However this is minor and it is balanced out a little with some stats. The direction is faultless, whether it be directing a performance or a talking head.

Some of the guys may be people you'd cross the street to avoid but they are all worth listening to for 60 minutes. This is a strange mix of music and documentary that will appeal to the hip hop fans more than others, but anyone with a chance should check this out. Moving truth with a heavy beat.

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