This indictment of the comparatively liberal Swedish penal system argues that a prison system is still a prison system. Caught between pleading a cause and producing a drama, the film never entirely reconciles the two elements. Filmed as social realism in an almost cinéma-vérité style, it tells of a talented but highly-strung young artist whose instability is partly of his own making - through his compulsive exploitation of others, and of himself through drink - partly because of an overworked and uncaring prison system. The film is at its best in dealing with prison days, particularly when contrasting behaviour in isolation and in groups. Towards the end of two hours, things look increasingly unsteady as Sjöman concentrates on the destruction of the artist's individual creative impulse, but Stig Engström's strong, starry performance always remains a focal point.