Michael Inside

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Michael Inside
"Flynn is convincing and sympathetic in the lead."

There’s no shortage of films out there about young men arrested for petty crimes ending up in prison – but then, young men keep committing petty crimes and ending up in prison with no idea what they’re getting themselves into, so there is clearly an ongoing need for them. Michael (Dafhyd Flynn) has made the classic mistake of holding drugs for an older youth, a story the judge at his trial doesn’t take very seriously. Neither does she care to hear about his family problems or hear his grandfather insist that he’s a good boy. A short, sharp shock is what he needs, she says.

Inside, Michael faces the usual problems. He’s an easy target. He’s naive; he doesn’t understand that a favour demands a favour in return. He’s unprepared for the brutality he’ll encounter. But young as he is, he adapts – and whilst it helps in the short term, that could be his undoing.

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Flynn is convincing and sympathetic in the lead, and the degree to which problems are created rather than solved by the system is put across effectively. Beyond this, however, there’s not much to mark this film out. A sub-plot involving protection money doesn’t really come to much, and Michael’s experiences inside, unpleasant though they can sometimes be, don’t say anything that hasn’t been said before. In a sense this is necessary, because the tragedy of these events is their seeming inevitability, but it leaves the whole weight of the film on the shoulders of the young lead, who can only do so much with it.

Teenagers who have encountered the sharp end of the system, even to a lesser degree, will find much to relate to here. Despite Michael’s naivety, the script never patronises him and it’s effective in capturing his point of view. Although the quality of the cinematography doesn’t quite capture the grittiness that director Frank Berry is aiming for, probably for budgetary reasons, the film succeeds in communicating Michael’s sense of despair and the way he feels penned in both inside and outside prison. It’s a bleak slice of social realism.

Reviewed on: 27 Feb 2018
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Michael Inside packshot
A teenager living in a Dublin housing estate with his grandfather is caught holding drugs for his friend's older brother and is sentenced to three months in prison.

Director: Frank Berry

Writer: Frank Berry

Starring: Dafhyd Flynn, Lalor Roddy, Moe Dunford

Year: 2017

Runtime: 96 minutes

Country: Ireland

Festivals:

Glasgow 2018

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