Release (2010, UK)

Release - Garry Summers as Martn and Daniel Brocklebank as Fr Jack Gillie

The opening scene of this movie has two naked men entwined in a prison bed, being woken by an early morning siren. Rouse! Rouse! One jumps up, hurriedly gets dressed in his Prison Officer uniform, and lets himself out of the cell. I think that it was at that point that the film lost me. Perhaps the officer’s supervisor, a colleague – someone – would have noticed that he’d gone missing for the entire night-shift… No?

Prison Officer Martin Crane (Garry Summers) is not your average officer. He’s new. Conscientious. New and conscientious enough, you’d think, to feel a bit inhibited about failing to do his nightly patrols and about the prospect of getting caught in flagrante delicto with a prisoner in his cell. Not Martin.

His prisoner lover is Father Jack Gillie (Daniel Brocklebank), a most unlikely-looking priest with a large tattoo who, we learn much later, has assisted his chronically ill brother to suicide. He’s immediately assumed to be a paedophile by the other prisoners. He’s spat on, and subjected to the odd taunt, but is otherwise left alone. Just as paedophiles are generally left alone by card-carrying members of the criminal fraternity.

Jack shares a cell with a young prisoner, Rook (Wayne Virgo). The other prisoners, led by an odious, ubiquitous murderer named Max (Bernie Hodges) and assisted by gleeful staff who egg them on, viciously attack Rook – seemingly because he’s been put in the same basket as Jack, or perhaps because he hasn’t done what’s expected of him and attacked Jack. But he’s brutally attacked, twice. Why not just attack Jack? Odd.

When they do get around to assaulting Jack, they inject him with – one presumes – a drug overdose, which he survives. Vengeance sadly doesn’t feel the same without a bloodied victim. What self-respecting baying mob is satiated by holding down a queer paedophile priest, and giving him a good… injection, I ask you?

I could go on. Quibbling, I mean. I could talk of the cell-block, which (despite the peeling paint and a credible look of grunge and neglect) looks like a pretend cell-block, with ridiculously narrow corridors. I could dwell on the tealights which burn romantically in the cell whenever Jack and Martin spend time together in the cell. Tealights!? Or Martin’s (unheard) petulant, angry response when he’s confronted with his affair with Jack. What is he angry about? “I should be able to sleep with prisoners while I’m supposed to be working!” I think he says.

It’s not a film for lovers of authentic prison movies. But it does have an unexpected twist at the end which may stop you throwing something at the screen.

Release 32 - Daniel Brocklebank as Jack Release 33 - Bernie Hodges as Max

Posted on January 10th, 2011 at 9:42 pm. Updated on January 15th, 2011 at 9:30 pm.

#335 in the Top 500

4 Responses to “Release (2010, UK)”

  1. September 1st, 2011 at 7:20 pm
    critic says:

    This is not a review written by a critic of film. It is demonstrably written by someone who does not understand screenwriting or cinematic device or techniques.

    This is a provocative and imaginative arthouse film.

    The priest is not a paedophile as this reviewer suggests.

    The willing suspension of disbelief is clearly not something this reviewer has even heard of.

    Tealights in the cell – well yes why not it’s a dank dark prison and it’s a bloody film not reality!

    I rate this film 8 out of 10

  2. September 6th, 2011 at 5:35 pm
    eric says:

    Dear Critic

    Yes, you’re right. I don’t purport to be a film critic, just a person who writes about prison movies.

    That said, I’ve seen plenty of great arthouse films and plenty of imaginative films, and this isn’t one of either. One has to have a reason to suspend disbelief, and there’s simply no encouragement to do so here.

    What’s more, I don’t say the priest is a paedophile; I say that he’s assumed to be a paedophile by other prisoners – and it is this assumption that dictates the others’ behaviour. As you might appreciate.

  3. September 6th, 2011 at 7:20 pm
    critic says:

    Rook is attacked because he failed to do Max’s bidding – I suspect something to do with the opening scene where you can hear the prison guards cavity searching him and asking him about “the drugs”.

    I still maintain this you have not written a review.
    I came to the film after reading a proper film review in the Church Times

    As you have to subscribe to read it I have taken the liberty of cutting and pasting some of the review below.

    “The jail is scruffy; its neon lights are unrelentingly severe. Bar the
    occasional brief dreamlike flashback, we the viewers never leave its confines; for we are captives also. After many other fine prison movies, it is a challenge to carve out a special niche in this genre. This succeeds, if only just. Yes, we get the gang brutalities against the weak while prison officers look away, the shortcomings of the judicial system, and the institutionalised hopelessness of it all. The narrative wears its concern to the point of compassion fatigue.

    The inmates are clad in spotless white T-shirts, as if we were in the company of angels. This signals a wariness of outward appearances. Wickedness comes in all kinds of packaging. Max (Bernie Hodges) is the flesh-crawling instigator of much of the evil, constantly quoting scripture to justify his animosity towards Jack. The chaplain adopts a similar strategy to persuade him to repent of his homosexuality. This is where the film comes into its own. Flag-flying it might be at times, but here is a film angry at the imprisonment of all our souls.”

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