LOCKED UP (GEFANGEN) (2007) (Germany) (Dir. Jorg Andreas)

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Synopsis:

"..a German-style "OZ"

Love behind bars! Dennis is sent to prison when he is caught using stolen credit cards. While trying to serve his time without the interference of the prison gangs, he meets Mike, a muscle-bound fellow prisoner, and the two begin a steamy romance. This German-style "OZ" features frontal nudity and sexual situations. Dennis is a new inmate. Mike is an older black inmate. Together the two face hostile prison officials and inmates in their attempts to become a loving couple.

Independent Review:

"Mutual attraction in a prison relationship"

"In Germany, twenty-something Dennis Tormann is serving a two-year prison sentence for credit card fraud. This term is his first ever behind bars. He is placed in one of the toughest cell blocks ruled by an inmate named Lutz, from who he tries to stay clear. Among other things, Lutz, supported by one of the guards named Muller, deals in drugs. Kevin Letarski, a young, slight inmate who is Lutz's whipping boy, befriends Dennis and tries to show him the ropes of prison life in their block. Although inexperienced with men, Dennis is attracted to Mike, a black American inmate in another cell block who is half way through his fifteen year sentence for murder. The attraction is mutual, and the two begin a relationship. Despite knowing that Muller, Lutz and his thugs do not like this relationship as it keeps Dennis out of their sight, Mike and Dennis, with Kevin's help, do whatever they can to spend time together while staying clear of Lutz's sadistic ways."
~ jeremywyndham (United Kingdom)

Independent Review:

"A Different Kind of Love Story"

"GEFANGEN (LOCKED UP) is a testy little German film that dares to push the envelope of NR rating, and given the concept of the story and the background of the writer/director Jörg Andreas making his first legitimate (ie non-porn) movie, it succeeds despite some technical shortcomings. No, it is not a film for those with issues concerning same-sex films, but for the target gay audience and for that audience eager to see innovative independent film making adventures, LOCKED UP is well worth watching!

The setting is a prison somewhere in Germany and the story begins with the handcuffed young credit card fraud 'criminal' Dennis (Marcel Schlutt) encountering his first entry into a prison. The tone of the film is set at the induction desk where Dennis is stripped and zealously 'inspected!' by the eager prison guards. He is then placed in a cell and begins his two-year prison term. Naturally the other prisoners (all body builders) on his bloc intimidate him into submission to their rules of the house. Through his cell window Dennis gazes on a fellow inmate, an African American hunk named Mike (Mile Sale), in prison for a fifteen-year sentence for the murder of his wife, digging trenches. They make eye contact and there is a mutual interest. Gradually the two meet under the rigid time frames for the prisoners, talk, share coffee in Mike's room, and eventually respond to their mutual attraction. During one interlude they are observed by a guard envious of Mike's attention and affection for Dennis. And as the routine prison dramas go, the inmates polarize over the two men's connection. Dennis is brutally raped, talked into cooperating with the drug ring, but Dennis' growing love for Mike is stronger than the resistance of both inmates and prison officials and they are eventually able to share a cell.

Dennis' mother visits her son, encourages him, and arranges for a lawyer to gain a shortened term for Dennis, a favor that Dennis greets with mixed emotions, as he does not want to leave his lover Mike as others have done. But in a tender scene Mike convinces Dennis that he is young and should accept the early release, an act of love that Dennis finally accepts. Dennis is released, but continues to visit Mike whom he loves and his love is reciprocated. The manner in which the film ends is yet another act of sacrifice and love and is best left unsaid.

Both Marcel Schlutt and Mike Sale are handsome of face and body and spirit and the story benefits from their on-screen chemistry. In an extended Feature on the DVD each actor (both openly gay) discusses his approach to making the film, and as in the movie itself, these dialogues are in both German and English. The men speak frankly and bravely about their participation in gay porn movies, stating the sex scenes in the film are real-time and not simulated. People will argue about the propriety of this but keep in mind the story and the director's background and perhaps the film will be more readily viewed as an experimental genre. This is a different kind of love story and I think it works!"
~ Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA, United States)

Independent Review:

"I want to stay with you"

"Can a movie either be hard-core pornography, mainstream entertainment, or somewhere in between? Perhaps this is what director Jörg Andreas was thinking when he made Locked Up, a German film that is titillatingly explicit, but just doesn't quite go "all the way." Set in an unidentifiable German prison, Locked Up features an absolute bevy of buff, angry, and vulnerable Nordic young men, most of who look as though they have just walked off a German porn film or have wondered in from the local gay leather bar.

Filmed entirely on digital video and on what was obviously a limited budget, and also full of frontal nudity, Locked Up, although not actually "pornographic," has several carefully composed masturbatory shots, that are certainly designed to push the envelope. There's also a rather graphic male rape scene, and lots of heavily worked out muscled guys that are more than willing to "drop their draws" for effect.

The movie opens as newly incarcerated Dennis (Schlutt) is being ordered to strip naked so that the prison guard can give him a full-body and rubber-gloved cavity search - which we actually see - and it is in this scene that we get our first full and unobstructed view of the actors' goods. Dennis has just been incarcerated for credit card fraud, but he's basically a sensitive young man who is absolutely at a loss in this environment of mean, angry muscle men.

One afternoon, while gazing out of his cell window, Dennis spies a hunky, shirtless black man digging a trench. He's immediately captivated and eventually is able to make contact with him. The man's name is Mike (Mike Sale) and he is currently doing fifteen years for murdering his wife. The attraction between them both is instant and it's not long before Dennis is making clandestine trips to Mike's gaol cell. But unknown to them, their sexy assignations are being watched over by the prying eyes of a voyeuristic and kinky security guard.

Can a true relationship survive in prison, where most of the inmates are white, and where racism and homophobia are rife? Will the prison authorities eventually discover them? Mike still has six years to go of his sentence after Dennis is released, but the two of them have fallen in love - they even want to share a cell together - so what are they going to do? There's also a subplot thrown in which involves corrupt guards sell drugs to "kingpin" inmates, who, in turn, have their vulnerable lackeys spread it around.

But the plot isn't really Locked Up's strong point; because all that's really being explored is sex, and more sex, along with a bit of kinky brutality that is thrown in for good measure. The movie is all about one's muscles, and one's nether regions, so consequently we have provocative gym routines, the requisite naked showers, and furtive trysts between cellmates and their security guards. It seems as though, in this prison, absolutely everybody wants to get in on the action! In Locked Up prison life looks more like life in a three star hotel. Inmates take their dinner in their cells rather than in the mess hall, and Mike is even allowed to keep two caged parakeets, where they are prominently displayed when he shares tin cups of coffee with Marcel. There isn't really much work going on, although there's one scene that shows Marcel hot wiring some electrical plates, but most of the time the inmates seem to be either jumping hoops on the basket ball court or fanatically working out in the fully equipped gym.

But what Locked Up fails to deliver in style in sophistication, and even realism, it certainly delivers in muscle. Schlutt is suitably boyishly hot and he has a great body. It's just a pity that he's not that animated; he spends most of his time either looking either sad or orgasmic, with no range between the two. Mike Sale's also looks great but his performance is awkward, and his line delivery is several notches below the average cue card read. It's obvious that he has little or no experience as an actor. The rest of the cast is made up of big, burly clones, complete with the requisite buzz cuts, and I suspect that most of them were probably recruited from the German porn scene.

Perhaps Locked Up is supposed to be symbolic of every gay man's fantasy? Well, maybe it does; it all depends on where you're coming from. One thing is clear though - the film is badly acted with some of the most appalling dialogue, and as far as prison stories go, not a single cliché is overlooked. However, regardless of Locked Up's obvious shortcomings, in a strangely voyeuristic oblique way, I still liked the film. Even though I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "guilty pleasure," it was certainly provocative and provided a few good unintentional laughs."
~ Mike Leonard (Los Angeles, CA, United States)

Post Information:
"Locked Up (Gefangen)"

Film Background Information:

Title: "Locked Up (Gefangen)"
Web: Cast, Bios and Additional Details at IMDb
Director: Jorg Andreas
Writers: Jorg Andreas, Peter Oehl
Credits: Full Cast, Crew & Credits.
Genre: Drama | Romance| Adult
Awards & Festivals: NY Lesbian and Gay Film Festival(premiere)
Runtime: 96 min.
Spoken Languages: German | English
Subtitles: English


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