A Sense of Freedom was based on the autobiography of Glasgow gangster Jimmy Boyle, a brutal gangster who was reputed to be Scotland’s most violent man.
Boyle (David Hayman) is from the Gorbals – a deprived working-class area in Glasgow – and makes a living through his menace. Despite his violent demeanour, he is well-liked and gives money to the neighbourhood kids whose parents have no money.
Eventually given a life sentence for murder, the brutal man comes face to face with a brutal system. He feels violated by the prison warders who treat him as nothing more than an animal, but the harsh beatings he receives – and his frequent extended stretches in solitary confinement – just strengthen his will and resolve (although he does contemplate suicide).
This is an extremely powerful film and Hayman is superb as Jimmy Boyle.
The prison scenes were filmed in Dublin’s Kilmainham Jail because the Scottish Prison Service (unsurprisingly) would not cooperate with the filmmakers.
The Glaswegian accents are so thick that the non-Scottish viewer would benefit from subtitles at times, but a re-dubbed version exists with “softer” generic Scottish accents.
Det. Sergeant Williamson