“Locked Up” (TLA Releasing) is a tender and provocative love story. Filmed in a real prison the film is very entertaining. The two stars are excellent actors and the script is quite good even though the ending is quite unbelievable. Some of the scenes are so graphic that the film is very close to porn—there is a great deal of nudity and a real masturbation sequence and an extremely graphic rape scene which many may find as unacceptable but it is necessary to the story.
This is a film that many people will condemn; it is not for the weak or the homophobic but in the end it is really quite charming. Made in Germany in 2004 ad directed by Jorg Andreas it is a story of love in prison. It is a bit unbelievable in that two gay guys share a cell. Marcel Schlutt is a gay man playing a gay man on the screen and he is very, very believable. His black lover, Mike Seal, brings a breath of fresh air into the film. Their sex scenes together are highly provocative.
The company that made the movie is primarily known for making gay porn and that shows in the meager dialog between the two men. Porn actors rarely have important lines to say. The dialog, hence, at times, seems to be quite funny. Unlike the banality of many gay romantic movies, “Locked Up” is a step above.
We first meet Dennis (Schlutt) as he is being stripped and brought into a quite dreary German prison. What we see are hunky, burly prison guards who seemed to be fueled with raging hormones and skinny prisoners who are obviously servants to their stronger “husbands”. There is a frightening and hair raising shower scene and the guards seem to have no concern for the condition of the prisoners. Dennis learns to adapt quickly to prison life and discovers Mike with whom e shares a deep love,
The problem I had with the film is trying to understand its tone. While Dennis and Mike play out their love affair with seemingly real emotions, it is hard to imagine that they can exist in prison as young lovers do on the outside. They seem to be like petulant adolescents. When a guard separates them after they have shared a romantic interlude, Mike tells him that the (the guard) cannot keep them apart. It sounded how one would expect a young girl would speak to her parents after being caught kissing her boyfriend.
The characters reach no more than one dimension. What is really imprisoning the cast are the limitations of the script. This is why the ending seems not to fit.
Aside from the two leads, the rest of the acting is terrible unless you look at the movie as porn. For porn actors, the cast is outstanding but as serious actors, they have a long way to go.
The movie seems to be testing just how far it can go and in this it succeeds. It is a movie for those who like innovative, independent filmmaking. All of the standard ingredients for a prison movie are here and thrown into is a gay romance. The plot shifts between
brutal realism and romantic fantasy and there is a lot of eye candy to see. It is, however, the two star actors that save the film. Some of the things that you will see will make you uncomfortable and the horrific rape scene is not for the ill at ease. Yet the tender love story makes the film worth a look or two and the real sex scenes give the film a novel quality.