New York

“Scrubbers,” Directed By Mai Zetterling

The Film Forum

“It ain’t fun to rot in prison and have shit thrown on your head,” bemoans a young woman as she is led back to her cell. Such pungent musings are the stuff of Scrubbers, a film by Mai Zetterling, which abruptly displaces some of the hackneyed clichés of the women’s-prison genre. It introduces clarity and wit into this sadly predictable arena of semi-circuitous T and A, which is usually marked by a glowering absence of presence (or vice versa).

The film ostensibly concerns Annetta (Chrissie Cotterill) and Carol (Amanda York), two young women who have escaped from a minimum-security jail only to be recaptured and sent to a more oppressive closed borstal. This incarceration thwarts Annetta’s attempt to reunite with her child, but allows Carol to be with her lover, one of the borstal girls. Annetta suspects Carol of engineering their capture, and in part the film pictures her episodic turns at

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