Following "Prophet" director Jacques Audiard's lead, Lindholm and Noer attempt to make up in raw emotion what their film lacks in context, an approach good for a surprising amount of mileage, until the project finally chokes on its own inevitable nihilism.
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This unflinching parable brings the hammer down on its cinematic brethren's fetishization of cell-block Rockefellers. R's final shot says it all: The house wins. The house always wins.
If the trajectory of R foreshadows tragedy early and often (what prison film doesn't?), the filmmakers manage to infuse quiet moments of reflection and panic into each man's traumatic experience.
Isn't as hellish as the situation behind bars is portrayed in American movies, some of which are so gory they qualify as prison porn. But it is awful enough.
If you were among the many who thought highly of "A Prophet," the French prison drama that played here last year, you'll want to see the brutally realistic Danish thriller R.