2000, UK/US, directed by Joel Hershman
Given the charm on display here - within minutes of the opening, we're rooting for a long-time convict, even before we discover the details of his story - it's surprising not that Clive Owen has since emerged as a major star, but that it took a further five years for him to become a true above-the-line prospect. Owen brings considerable force to the central role, apparently based on a true story, credibly navigating his character's transformation, and elevating a lightweight, though often quite entertaining, outing.
As so often with British films of this kind, the supporting cast is a gallery of character sketches, some of them rather overdone (Helen Mirren's work is much more obvious than her remarkable turn in The Queen), others, like David Kelly's initially unpromising part, surprisingly affecting. The film looks remarkably pretty - overly so, at times, even in the context of the open prison setting - while US director Joel Hershman is almost completely uninterested in the complexities of the British class system, something that a local would no doubt have extracted much mileage from.