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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Grim Drama 3.5 Stars
"Release" written and directed by Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin

Prison movies as a genre are bleak and "Release" is no exception. The story begins with a Catholic priest, Father Gillie (Daniel Brocklebank), being processed into a prison somewhere in the UK. He is a handsome and seemingly innocent looking man yet we know he is guilty of some terrible...
Published on December 26, 2010 by J. Sidelinger

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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars DARK & DISTURBING
A very dark and disturbing film. Mercy killing, sadism, unrestrained evil, religious hypocrisy, guards who ignore abuse or even encourage it, some surreal dream sequences and a single loving relationship between a jailed former priest and the one decent guard that ends horrifically make this a movie enjoyable only by those who recognize such realities exist and can deal...
Published on December 12, 2010 by Not a maven


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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Grim Drama 3.5 Stars, December 26, 2010
By 
J. Sidelinger (San Francisco Bay Area) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Release (Amazon Instant Video)
"Release" written and directed by Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin

Prison movies as a genre are bleak and "Release" is no exception. The story begins with a Catholic priest, Father Gillie (Daniel Brocklebank), being processed into a prison somewhere in the UK. He is a handsome and seemingly innocent looking man yet we know he is guilty of some terrible crime - there is a suggestion that he may be a pedophile.

While serving his sentence, he begins a relationship with Martin an idealistic prison guard (Garry Summers) and the two manage to carry out an illicit love affair in the midst of the ugliness both literally and figuratively in the drab institutional setting and cruel actions of those around them. Some of the story's context is provided by Father Gillie's flashbacks to the actual events that brought him into prison. In addition, there is a parallel story of conflict between Father Gillie's very young cellmate and the other prisoners that inevitably leads to Father Gillie coming to his defense. One particular prisoner played by Bernie Hodges is especially antagonist towards Daniel Brocklebank's character. The character Max is sinister and unnerving as it becomes apparent that he actually running the prison and not the warden. He is a spider manipulating the strands of a web - orchestrating the actions of the prisoners, guards, and machinations behind the scenes. I found Bernie Hodges very creepy in this role.

It is not completely clear to me where Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin wanted this movie to go. There is brutal violence juxtaposed to the tenderness between the two lovers;prison justice versus Fr. Gillie and Martin's sense of decency; and morality versus depravity. There is also Father Gillie's struggle to reconcile his own faith versus religious dogma. So, is the movie about morality? Is it a love story? Is it contemplative? Perhaps it is over my head; however, the polish of British productions is always remarkable as well as the acting in these films. It is unfortunate that many GBLT films in the United States lack the production dollars and suffer as a result.

Overall, "Release" is an interesting film although unsettling - it does not suppress any of the violence or gloss over any unpleasantness. The brutality is horrific, but the depiction of tenderness between two men against this backdrop beautiful. The plot is somewhat uneven, but the actors Daniel Brocklebank, Garry Summers, and Bernie Hodges are convincing in their respective roles,and the production very professional.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars challenging stuff - release me, December 12, 2010
This review is from: Release (DVD)
Caught this at the Riverside Studios in London, what a film...dark and very different. Very grown up for a centrally perceived gay film. It deservedly won an award for Best UK Drama at the End of the Pier International Film Festival this year. Tackling subjects ranging from paedophilia to euthanasia wrapped around the central character of a priest in prison illicitly having an affair with a male prison officer the film cleverly draws on the influences of Polanski and Hitchcock to take you on quite a nightmarish journey. The stark atmosphere of the prison takes hold of you from the moment the priest is taken through familiar scenes of admission to prison.

Daniel Brocklebank is amazing and his performance perfectly pitched throughout. His supporting cast in the form of his lover played by Garry Summers brings a convincing tension to the love and passion between the two men as well as conveying the pain of love. Bernie Hodges scares the bejeezus out of you as Max the everpresent all seeing psychotic prison heavy. Wayne Virgo from SHANK pulls another great physically exposing performance out of the hat.

I don't want to give the plot away - needless to say it plays with time and shifts from reality to fantasy scenes effortlessly making this a drama that updates the narrative of PRIEST from years ago. It is a brave and clever film interspersed with great passionate love scenes snatched between the violence and horror of prison. Be warned you will cry at the end.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unfair criticism of a poignant film, October 27, 2011
By 
Lady Kah-Kah "the defendant" (At the Mountains of Madness) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Release (Amazon Instant Video)
I feel like people who are giving this one star ratings are disappointed that this wasn't just some fun, gay sex romp like so many other gay-related movies out there. I also think the people who designed the cover art for the dvd were deliberately misleading (guys in the shower? Really?). This isn't a "sexy" movie. It is very dark. It asks some hard questions about faith, sexuality and assisted suicide. Yeah, not exactly whack off material. This isn't a movie with a happy Hollywood ending where the two main protagonists walk off into the sunset at the end. It has a bleak outcome that, within the context of the story, seems unavoidable. It is still an outstanding film. The actor who plays the incarcerated priest is brilliant. His can say more with his eyes than words can express. I would encourage people who like indie films to give this one a shot. If you're looking for a sexy romp with angst, go rent Later Days.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Passion of Christ and the Problem of Evil, December 20, 2012
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This review is from: Release (Amazon Instant Video)
Compassion is the pivot point of this film. When one chooses to act on love, consequences follow. The prison culture is more raw, less civilized than the outside society, but not much different. Hypocrisy in the Roman Catholic Church worries the gay priest. Orphaned at a young age, the older brother cares for his brother, plays the parent role right on into becoming a Father of the Church. But the moral stance of the institution is inhumane. Here the Church and the Prison mirror each other. Within the Prison are the same forces of death and destruction, deceit and hidden dangers which the Priest found in "straight" society. His highly protective sense of fairness and willingness to act on his values brings him erotic love as a reward. The jailor as lover/prisoner as lover duality creates tension for the lovers and for the environment. Evil lurks in the prison. Power is hard to see, unless you are familiar with its Dark forms. The priest knows the Shadow side of the Church's power structure, but is an innocent lamb in this environment, as is his idealistic "Christian" guard lover. This is an archetypal piece, a tragedy like the Passion, but unlike the traditional version we get to see the nude body in all its beauty.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great movie if you understand it is art.., October 22, 2011
This review is from: Release (DVD)
and not based on real world circumstances. Surreal art is just the artist's interpretation. The acting was supurb. Jack and Martin's love tore at my heart strings. Their love for each other is tender, real, and draws the viewer into its power. Max scared the hell out of me. Release deals with essential moral questions but doesn't resolve them. It asks us to seriously consider them. It's not at all a feel good movie. The setting and actions, which are shown graphically, are quite brutal, and liked surreal art, there are simply unanswered questions about the characters we are supposed to fill in for ourselves. The ending is absolutely unexpected. In other words, Release is a very good movie.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of release, July 19, 2011
This review is from: Release (DVD)
"Release" is a very well-made indie film, especially when one considers its low budget. It is not a particularly pleasant movie, although it has some tender moments, and yes, I wish it had ended differently, but it addresses important subjects like religious hypocrisy, loss of faith, euthanasia, homophobia, and the brutality of prison life. Kudos to directors/writers Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin for tackling such serious matters.

Catholic priest Father Jack (Daniel Brocklebank) is imprisoned for an unspecified crime. There he experiences unspeakable acts of violence, yet manages to fall in love with Martin (Garry Summer), an idealistic guard. Their affair, however, is short-lived, but they both look forward to the time when Jack is released and they can be together again. Unfortunately for them, the title of the film has more than one meaning.

The production values are quite high for a low-budget film. The prison setting is eerie and claustrophobic.

Brocklebank gives a terrific performance. Summer is also quite good. The rest of the cast is fine.

This film is not without its flaws. The sound is quite murky at times, making it difficult to understand the dialogue. The score also has a tendency to drown out the quieter moments. At one point the soundtrack is out of sync with the picture. Of course, these sound problems could be the fault of the transfer to DVD rather than the movie itself. More problematic is the murkiness of the plot. The story is non-linear, jumping back and forth in time, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The use of dreams and fantasies make things rather confusing at times. Some of the characters are bizarre, and some of the situations are improbable.

The sex scenes are restrained (a negative for some viewers), while the violence is graphic (also a negative for some, including me).

This is definitely not a feel-good movie. If you're looking for sweetness and light, avoid this one like the plague. If you're looking for a thoughtful, thought-provoking film, give this one a try.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Enjoyable, July 14, 2013
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This review is from: Release (Amazon Instant Video)
I tend to watch only those films that have better reviews and was intrigued to find a gay prison movie included in that category. The story line, script and acting turned out to be better than I had expected – after low budget considerations.

The movie proceeds rapidly as it uses the resolution of numerous subtle unknowns like paint strokes to compose portraits of the two lovers. If you’re expecting a rough and tumble action film – this is not it. The suspense, sex, passion, compassion, and story are much more like something created by the French impressionist. Ditto – sets, lighting, makeup, costuming, and choreography. If you haven’t stopped reading this by now, you will love the film.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars DARK & DISTURBING, December 12, 2010
This review is from: Release (DVD)
A very dark and disturbing film. Mercy killing, sadism, unrestrained evil, religious hypocrisy, guards who ignore abuse or even encourage it, some surreal dream sequences and a single loving relationship between a jailed former priest and the one decent guard that ends horrifically make this a movie enjoyable only by those who recognize such realities exist and can deal with it. If you like movies with happy endings this is not a film for you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, June 2, 2012
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This review is from: Release (Amazon Instant Video)
Wonderful film. There's violence, but not so graphic that it's difficult to watch. A surprise or two during the movie kept it interesting. It also helps that most of the actors are pretty cute, too. Especially Wayne Virgo. This is one film that I think I'll definitely purchase. Brings up some controversial issues, and it was a very appreciated deviation from your standard coming of age story, It also digs into other areas of homosexuality, and love between two men.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love found is strange places, September 5, 2013
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This review is from: Release (DVD)
The story is about a prisoner in a British prison, his life and interactions with others. Life in the prison is bleak and harsh, however, the prisoner is able to find love with a prison guard. From there they both have hope that carries the viewer through the film to a very surprise ending. I enjoyed the film much in exploring the possibility that love can be found and cultivated in places and between people that would often be unexpected. Good movie.
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Release
Release by Christian Martin (DVD - 2010)
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