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On 8th February 2000 at Feltham Young Offenders Institute, Robert Stewart, a known violent racist was placed in a cell with Zahid Mubarek, a young Asian man due to be released in 6 weeks who had only been convicted of petty theft. Over this six week period, Stewart, with his unbalanced mind and deep seated racist tendencies is allowed, through indifference bordering on institutional culpability, to become the 'monster' he always wanted to be. Hours before Mubarek's release, Stewart murdered him in an unprovoked attack. Written by
Un-compromising interpretation of events at Feltham YOI - a must-see
We Are Monster (based on real life events)will stay with you, it provokes sympathy for the victim(s) and outrage and disbelief as to why a young man is murdered within his cell at Feltham Young Offenders Institute when it could and should have been prevented.
What causes the viewer considerable disquiet is the murderer's own story as we learn about his abusive childhood, at the hands of his racist, violent father, and his mother who turned away.
The lead role of the protagonist is played by Leesham Alexander. I hadn't seen any of his work before, his performance was mesmerizing and compelling, drawing you in to the murderer's highly disorganised and damaged view of the world, acutely paranoid and withdrawn he finds himself within Feltham having spent previous time in other YOIs alone but sharing a cell with a young Asian man. The unfolding events are told through the murder's perspective as he struggles and stumbles toward the inevitable, horrific but avoidable end.
The victim, convincingly played by another relative unknown, is a young man with a future who appears to have a rehabilitated himself is due to be released.
This film is unsettling, but rightly so, if you enjoy a film which is thought provoking and challenging this is for you. I hope it does well for the writer, director and cast because the story remains highly relevant following the subsequent inquiry and the lessons not (yet) learned.
Great direction from Antony Petrou and cinematography which captures the starkness of the institutions in which we place young people with little if any support. I suspect it will be uncomfortable viewing for the governor and warders/officers involved (some of whom tried to intervene and do right by their charges), as well as the Home Office and others. There is no getting away from the social and political issues highlighted.
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