A small opera company manages to get further funding by working with prisoners in s maximum security prison for life. They audition 8 lifers and one staff and give them all parts in the chorus. However the realities of prison life and the curiosities reveals different things about both groups.
Shown in Cannes this film drew a standing ovation at the end of the screening and watching it makes you understand why it is a really wonderful film. The plot is really just a means of getting to understand the realities of life for these men to view them as `just men' as Victoria does is not the case, but to see them only as murders is wrong as well. The staging of Sweeney Todd is a good device but the interactions of the characters are what makes this piece so moving.
At the start we only see these men as lifers and nothing more. We too want to try and see them in one category or another but it is more than that. Walter is a prime example a violent, strong man but yet he weeps with gratitude at the small trappings of normality he is given by the opera company. To see one young prison reduced to tears by a cruel journalist was really powerful. None of them are the same and we are taught this gradually, without sweeping events just constant minor observations.
This is all down to a great script but the actors make every character believable. I only know Stevenson from the hilarious Spaced but here she is on top form, despite being one of the less open characters. All the support cast are excellent but the inmates are the best they all bring so much out of each of their characters it is untrue. If you've ever seen Oz you'll know how brutal prison dramas can be, but, unlike Oz, here we get the characters being more than just violent men. They are full of regret, pain and anger. Burfield is great as Walter. Another actor who does very well is Shaun Dingwall who is bang on the money here.
Overall it is very hard to describe this film adequately. It is simply a great character driven drama that you should search out if necessary as it is actually a lot more moving that I can manage to describe here.
Tomorrow La Scala.