"Banged-up" is about the clash between three convicts from different social bacgrounds, the friction between three languages, cultures and conflicting moralities. For these three men, whom nothing except prison could ever bring together, cohabitation leads to confrontations that hold the key to the meaning of freedom...
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From the word go, “Banged-up” surprises and spellbinds the audience with its mixture of high visual stylization and the striking realism of the actors’ performances. A credits sequence, visibly inspired by “Seven”, sets a tone of cold, metallic hardness and shrill, savage sounds. The images of the corridors and cells oscillate between a Bresson- or Cavalier-like abstraction and the power of the dialogues and situations, where humor and violence are strung together in a world that makes the head spin when the doors clang shut on the ordinary inmates in their cells or the con in solitary. Shot in only four and a half weeks at the La Plaine Saint-Denis studios after four years of writing and on-the-spot research, ‘Banged-up’ is a hyper-realistic snapshot of the prison environment such as France has rarely seen. Bouhnik’s lively camerawork is matched by a superb trio of actors: Pascal Greggory as the powerful, painful, victimized gang leader, Gael Morel as the corrupted innocent and the astonishing Jamel Debbouze, the bouncy comic from Canal+. At a time when prison spares nobody, from inner city kids to VIPs, ‘Banged-up’ is a virtually eye-witness account impossible to ignore.”(Michel Pascal in “Le Point”, August 22nd 1998)