Prick Up Your Ears 1987

Prick Up Your Ears

Critics Consensus

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94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 34

79%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,419
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Movie Info

The life and tragic death of British playwright Joe Orton (Gary Oldman) is chronicled in this biographical film. When the young, attractive Orton meets the older, more introverted Kenneth Halliwell (Alfred Molina) at drama school, he befriends the kindred spirit and they start an affair. As Orton becomes more comfortable with his sexuality and starts to find success with his writing, Halliwell becomes increasingly alienated and jealous, ultimately tapping into a dangerous rage.

Cast & Crew

Alfred Molina
Kenneth Halliwell
Julie Walters
Elsie Orton
James Grant
William Orton
Frances Barber
Leonie Orton
Janet Dale
Mrs. Sugden
Dave Atkins
Mr. Sugden
John Lahr
Writer (Book)
Andrew Brown
Producer
Stanley Myers
Original Music
Oliver Stapleton
Cinematographer
Mick Audsley
Film Editor
Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski
Production Design
Philip Elton
Art Direction
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News & Interviews for Prick Up Your Ears

Critic Reviews for Prick Up Your Ears

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (2)

  • Molina is superb as Halliwell, managing to not only depict a man gradually unravelling from intelligent and dignified to frenzied and paranoid but to cast him in a sympathetic light.

    January 15, 2019 | Full Review…
  • As a portrait of a relationship and a creative partnership, Prick is ever alert to the shifts in power, to the narcissistic wounds that can never be salved when a teacher is surpassed by his pupil.

    August 29, 2017 | Full Review…
  • A perfect storm of talent collides to create one of cinema's great doomed love dramas.

    August 4, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Gary Oldman's superb livewire performance is now virtually an authentic testament of the man himself.

    August 3, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Gary Oldman is excellent as Orton, right down to remarkable resemblance, while Alfred Molina creates both an amusing and tormented Halliwell. Vanessa Redgrave takes top honors, though, as a compassionate and benign agent.

    March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Stands up extraordinarily well: mostly because of two outstanding central performances, Gary Oldman as the talented, blase Orton, and Alfred Molina as his thwarted, Hancock-esque murderer Kenneth Halliwell.

    April 7, 2007 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Andrew Pulver

    Guardian
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Prick Up Your Ears

  • Feb 14, 2010
    I felt the film could have explored more of the brief career of Joe Orton because the film tends to brush over those parts a bit. However the performances of Oldman and Molina are amazing. Its too bad the film was released in 1987, because if it was done now I think the content wouldn't have made people ignore it.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 09, 2008
    Good little film about the life of Joe Orton. Alfred Molina is great as his lover Kenneth Halliwell. Plus an excellent script by Alan Bennet.
    Emily B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 06, 2008
    gary oldman plays playright joe orton in this biography from oldmans early career, looking mostly at his turbulant relationship with kenneth halliwell, his writing partner who never got the credit he deserved due to joe's limelight, here brilliantly played by alfred molina, the film is a must for oldman fans, and even though the film isnt that great it is the performances that will draw you in
    scott g Super Reviewer
  • Feb 28, 2005
    [font=Century Gothic][color=darkred]"Revengers Tragedy" is a movie based on the 17th century play by Thomas Middleton. In this version, it is updated to Liverpool in the near future where Vendici(Christopher Eccleston) is returning after a period of absence. He is back to swear vengeance against The Duke(Derek Jacobi, who does not have a lot to do), after he killed Vendici's bride in retaliation for her not wanting to have sex with him.(A good deal of this movie is taken up with men defending the honor of women. I can understand this happening in the 17th century but it's not likely for the present or anytime in the near future.) Other faults include the movie missing chances to have anything to say about 1) the nature of revenge and 2) the class structure.(The Duke is evil but Lord Antonio seems like a pretty alright guy.) But it is imaginatively staged with computer effects and is well acted especially by Christopher Eccleston and Eddie Izzard.[/color][/font] [font=Century Gothic][color=#8b0000][/color][/font] [font=Century Gothic][color=darkslateblue]"Prick Up Your Ears" is based on the lives and tempestual relationship of playwright Joe Orton(Gary Oldman) and Kenneth Halliwell(Alfred Molina). Orton's role in life seemed to be wreaking playful havoc in the straitlaced society of 50's and 60's Britain, from defacing library books to anonymous sex in lavatories. The movie is witty and engaging. It gives great insight into the characters and their love for each other. Both Oldman and Molina do a great job. And it's a joy watching Wallace Shawn and Vanessa Redgrave act together.[/color][/font] [font=Century Gothic][color=darkslateblue][/color][/font] [font=Century Gothic][color=darkslateblue](Very strange literary note: Alfred Molina invokes T.S. Eliot in "Prick Up Your Ears." He would do so again in "Spider Man 2.") [/color][/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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