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Top 3 Critics’ Picks In Theaters this August: David Mackenzie’s Starred Up

Starred Up – David Mackenzie
Limited Release – August 29th
Distributor: Tribeca Film

Awards & Fests: It begin the film festival circuit with back-to-back screenings at 2013’s Telluride and Toronto Int. Film Festival, and added 2014 showings at Tribeca & Karlovy Vary Film Fests. It received festival buzz for its performances — and out of the several British Independent Film Awards noms, it was awarded Best Supporting Actor for Ben Mendelsohn.

What the critic’s are saying?: Among the critics who caught it at Telluride, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn found lineage in Mackenzie’s approach stating his “sharp kitchen sink realism to this haunting setting and directs it toward an ultimately moving family drama that just happens to involve vicious convicts.” Variety’s Peter Debruge found this favorably comparable to one of my recent personal 2009 chart toppers, explaining that “as prison films go, “Starred Up” hits all the usual bases with blistering naturalism: There’s brawling in the corridors, sexual tension in the showers and corruption among the guards. But the plot defies the genre, and its two central performances rank on par with those in 2009’s “A Prophet.” Lastly, our own Jordan Smith included Jack O’Connell in our Top New Faces TIFF wrap up saying that the actor “brings a ferocious magnetism to his performance of Eric, a fresh faced inmate locked up in the same prison as his father after a lengthy stay in juvy for violent outbursts“.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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