I’m finding it really hard to start this review. Not because I don’t have a kind word to say about Jack O’Connell. Quite the opposite really, I have tonnes. In fact, they are whirring around my mind in a chaotic buzz trying to etch themselves into this article.
The truth is Jack O’Connell is one of the few legitimate actors around at the moment than can punch my gut with emotional intensity and rawness. The BAFTA winning actor – who scooped up the Rising Star award in 2015 – as tremendously rallied up the ranks of interesting actor, to fantastic actor, to “must have him in every film.”
His talent for taking the anger and rage, making it bloom with undone visceral beauty is unparalleled in this industry.
We Brits have known the actor for quite some time and it looks like he is making waves with our US counterparts. The performer has transferred his skill trans-Atlantic. This weekend he stars in Money Monster. Directed by Jodie Foster (by the way, that’s the second female director he’s worked with in the past two years. Just sayin’,) and starting George Clooney and Julia Roberts, O’Connell has proven his worth against the heavyweights of Hollywood.
So to celebrate everything O’Connell, we take a look at his best bits.
I mean his films….
Skins (2009 – 2010)
The third series of the popular drug and teen addled drama, and the second batch of pill-popping students, was definitely the best. Of course, Nicolas Hoult and crew mustn’t be ignored in favour of the new younger generation of misfits that came afterwards, and Dakota Blue Richards collection of rambunctious college students did… meh, alright. But for some reason, a lot of people latched onto the sophomore season of the television show. Maybe it was because after we’d assimilated to the idea that this kind of shit happens on a regular basis in a simple Bristol college, we’d actually started to empathise with our characters. There was also Naomi and Emily, which was a relationship that we all adored because of its accurate youthful depiction of homosexuality.
And I think audiences everywhere fell in love with Jack O’Connell as bad boy Cook who was still layered with emotion, drive, and ambition. We were obsessed…
Cook, Line and Sinker (I’m here all week folks).
Eden Lake (2008)
Working-class horror has been a staple diet of movies since films took on a life of their own. See, the idea is that poor folk are vicious and brutal creatures and will terrorise the rich folk as much as possible. Eden Lake is the same idea. Starring Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly, it revolves around a couple taking a break to the idyllic titular place only to come across some nasty kids who then chose to relentlessly pursue them. Whilst the ethics and implications of the horror are a little uncouth, Eden Lake showcases O’Connell’s terrific acting in such a violent and angry way as the main antagonist. Yet still, here he has a stirring emotionality and backstory that makes him less one note, and more of a melody of acting talents.
Starred Up (2013)
Starred Up, is, was equally engaging as ’71. While you may go into it thinking that a prison film with waylaid delinquents and adults who have been banged up for years is not up your alley, O’Connell genuinely stirs with the violent and unpredictable Eric Love, a young offender pushed into an adult prison early because of his temperament. He gives so much passion and intensity to his character here that you’re admiration for the actor soars. Starred Up is a kinetic, different, and original film that helped O’Connell become the must see actor of our generation.
Whilst the end product of the film is completely average, Jack O’Connell is, in one word, outstanding. His recent performances have pushed him right into the foray of awards season (if you haven’t seen ’71 yet, please do). Though his American Italian accent is a little worrisome at first, he is actually incredible. Especially, f you can get past the slight twinge of Bristol lad coming through in his American accent. He does his best work in the second act at the POW camp. Maybe this is because he doesn’t talk a lot. As with his character in ’71, it’s all about the physical and emotional responses he gives without even uttering a word. His transformations physically are also mind-blowing; he had to have the body of an Olympic runner for a quarter of the film, then a starved runner and then a beaten and starved runner for the rest.
From Angelina Jolie, it may seem like a slightly underdeveloped film but Jack O’Connell does well in this lead role!
There is no denying that O’Connell is a tour de force here. Able to balance a childlike lost quality about him as his character Gary Hook is thrown into the violent landscape of the Belfast Riots. Harnessing a talent to convey the brutality of the situation, as well as the terror of being chased, bloodied and wounded, through the streets is so real that you can smell the sweat and tears coming from O’Connell’s character. He has few lines, but says so much, twisting through the fright in the pit of your stomach with his emotive facial expressions and intensity. Absorbing, O’Connell will leave you in awe.
Honourable Mention: This Is England.
MONEY MONSTER IS OUT IN CINEMAS NOW!