Saturday 24 August 2013


(Marius Holst, 2011)

A period-Scum with a little Tigerland thrown in. Filled with prison movie cliches; only here they're done without any of the feverish pulpiness which can make them so enjoyable and exploitative. Here they're played utterly straight. "Straight" is an inappropriate word - theres a sizeable portion of intense homo-eroticism here, as in many examples of the genre, creating odd, interesting dissonance with the sexual abuse sub-plot that becomes important as the story draws on. But this is a strangely stolid product for a borstal film, wearyingly ardent in its need to be a prestigious piece of cinema, it is handsomely photographed, nicely, oh-so-seriously acted, and largely effective in its straightforward, emotive, manipulative storytelling.
The plot tells you all you need to know: in the early years of the Twentieth Century, the arrival of a strong-willed, charismatic new boy eventually leads to a violent uprising at a harshly disciplinary Norwegian Island borstal.
By the time that uprising occurs, the audience is willing it to happen, desperate to see the worm turn, eager to see some justice done. It perhaps overdoes things by adding to that a portrayal of friendship and a tragic twist, but it is generally a strong, well-made piece of storytelling.

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