by Mark Wilshin
As 19-year old first-time prisoner JR, Brenton Thwaites is so pretty it’s no wonder he’s terrified of the wrong kind of attention. And to escape the threat of male rape, he even cuts a deal with big timer Brendan (Ewan McGregor), who makes an exception for the young chess-playing ingenu and decides to get involved – offering him a life of beer in the fridge, money and girls in exchange for a life of vassalage and crime. Like the procedural opening of Starred Up, Julius Avery’s film starts well with its claustrophobic prison scenes, and even after it changes direction with the jail break, the heist makes for a thrilling climax. But with a painfully laboured script that degenerates into a metaphor on evolution from chimps and bonobos (fighters and lovers), it’s an awkward thriller of the boy getting both the money and the girl. A triumph of loyalty over treachery, it’s maudlin and heavy-handed, its plot turning on perhaps the only Australian that can’t swim. But with good performances from McGregor, Thwaites and Alicia Vikander as well as moments of razor-sharp tension, Son Of A Gun is a patchy but enjoyable ride.
Son Of A Gun is showing on Oct 17th, 18th & 19th at the 58th BFI London Film Festival