Tough Love Behind Bars: Philip Kerr Is Made to Squirm by a Prison Drama Exploring Male Rape. (Film)

By Kerr, Philip | New Statesman (1996), July 7, 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Tough Love Behind Bars: Philip Kerr Is Made to Squirm by a Prison Drama Exploring Male Rape. (Film)


Kerr, Philip, New Statesman (1996)


A friend of mine, a well-known journalist who has started several times to write a novel, told me why he had never finished one: "About three chapters in I realise that what I'm writing is not James Joyce and I can't go on.

No such inhibitions seem to have affected Steve Buscemi in directing his second feature, Animal Factory, set in a decaying penitentiary in America's Deep South. It's a respectable little movie, but then again it's not EachDawn I Die(1939), Cool Hand Luke (1967), or The Shawshank Redemption (1994). To that extent, you sort of wonder why Buscemi bothered. Still, it cost just $3.6m, which is about one-twentieth of the budget for The Last Castle (2001), a dreadful prison movie starring Robert Redford and James Gandolfini. At the very least this film is better than that one.

There are some good performances here, too, most notably from Edward Furlong, Willem Dafoe and Mickey Rourke; but audiences have stayed away since the film's release in October 2000, and it grossed just $50,000 at the US box office. Until now the film had failed to find a British distributor and, with all due respect to Optimum Releasing, I think it is easy to see why.

True, it's nicely shot, and avoids all the usual cliches for this kind of film; even so, I can't see a British audience finding Animal Factory any more appealing than the Americans did. There are some subjects with which no audience will ever feel comfortable.

A few years ago I pitched an idea to all the big studios about an air crash investigator. A major star was attached to the project and everything looked promising. Naturally, the script included an air crash. This worried the studio heads, who suspected, rightly, that audiences might not like a movie about the dangers of commercial air travel. That was then. These days, it's everyone's nightmare to find themselves on a 747 seated next to a nervous-looking stranger who's wearing a pair of smouldering Nikes.

No less nightmarish for good-looking men such as myself is the idea of going to prison and discovering what really does happen when you drop the Palmolive in the communal showers. That fear of being buggered senseless by a heavily tattooed bodybuilder with a life sentence and a love of gilded youth is pretty much the only real story in this film. But it's hard to stay seated comfortably in the cinema when male rape is on the menu.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Tough Love Behind Bars: Philip Kerr Is Made to Squirm by a Prison Drama Exploring Male Rape. (Film)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?