Stitched Up
New Zealand Listener|December 8 - 14 2018

An escape drama based on an actual prison break is liable to incarcerate viewers.

Diana Wichtel

Clinton Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in a bleak tract of upstate New York, has a cold, caged, clanging hopelessness that seeps into the skin of inmates and staff alike. “Out in nature there are no right angles, but in here it’s all right angles,” muses prisoner Richard Matt. “Bars up, bars down, bars across.”

The place is not, so far into Soho’s Escape at Dannemora, any more cruel or violent than you’d expect. In fact, we see chief protagonists David Sweat (Paul Dano) and Matt doing serious time for crimes as yet undisclosed, painting, reading and listening to music. When corrections officer Gene Palmer (David Morse) suddenly headbutts Sweat and smashes his head on a toilet, it’s shocking but really just for form. Palmer mostly colludes with his favourites. In the case of Matt, it is to get the pretty pictures he paints to take home to his wife. Everyone knows the score.

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