It's gritty and real and made me sick to my stomach
HERE ARE THE YOUNG MEN (2021)
Here are the Young Men is certainly not what the trailer made it out to be, although I'm not entirely saying that's a bad thing. I will say that my head is pretty messed up by the end of it all, so naturally, let's try to write a review.
Director Eoin Macken achieves a film that makes you fear drugs and alcohol. It’s not even that those two substances alone are the issue, it's that those two mixed with psychotic people is a worrisome combo. Macken’s direction is dry and lacks flair apart from the hallucinogenic scenes which are increasingly difficult to point out as the pace of the film starts at a rapid pace and continues to build and build; the movie is always in motion. These hallucinogenic moments can be nauseating in more ways than one and scenes like the heavily featured “American Talk Show” feel incredibly awkward; almost certainly holding a deeper meaning than what I was able to witness in a single viewing.
Adapted by Eoin Macken from Rob Doyle’s novel, Here Are the Young Men follows a group of young adults who have just been given their release from the world of High School. We get to know the daily personality traits of our characters before becoming an eye witness of a young girl’s death. With this ingrained in their heads, the three must come to terms with their demons in their own unique ways. The plot itself is barebones. We accompany the psychopath of the group, Kearney, as he causes chaos among his community and most importantly his friends, all while under the influence. Do I wish there was more to go off here? In a way I do, but in another this perfectly reflects the dread produced by said drugs, and we get to make up our individual opinions of the events that transpire leading to the finale.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
All the characters are (excuse my language) pricks - mean spirited, immature, and with no aspirations. There’s a lot of similarities between Here Are the Young Men’s cast of characters and those of Trainspotting: Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman) is Renton, Kearney (Finn Cole) is Begbie, Jen (Anya Taylor-Joy) is Diane, Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is a mixture of Sick Boy and Spud - if you’ve seen Trainspotting this should provide you all you need to know about these characters. The characters, while enormously despicable (Jen being the exception), are all well written and drive that anger out of you. With three central characters, Matthew and Kearney are the focal points of the story with Rez left on the backburner - I would have loved more development to his storyline. Travis Fimmel is another casualty of the film - portraying a TV personality with some truly irritating appearances that struggle to tell the viewer if what’s happening with his character is reality or not. Every time Fimmel shared the screen with Cole I couldn’t help but exclaim, “What is happening?!” Great performances, frustrating characters, and horrendous actions - it’s easy to want to turn away at times.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Visually the film is trying to show us the tipsy turvy landscape that drugs and other influences such as those can have on an individual. The film makes some fascinating creative decisions when it comes to how they choose to interpret such things and many of those moments are nauseating to sit through. We are given so many scenarios where you can’t quite tell if what is happening is truly happening or is just taking place within some character’s drugged out mind. When I consider films with drugs as a central focus, I always look at Trainspotting for not only its story but style - the film has some sickening scenes, but is infinitely watchable because their disaster is a fascinating downward spiral with a happy ending. Here… it’s up to the audience to decide if the list of deplorable actions caused by our central characters make for a justifiable conclusion.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
When the film began with “Loaded” by Primal, which is featured in The World’s End, I knew we were going to get a film highly influenced by drug/alcohol usage, yet I never expected something so dark. We are given numerous lyrical songs throughout, but beyond “Loaded,” they all served very little purpose to setting the mood; this honor is mutual with composer Ryan Potesta’s score. As Huey Lewis said in Back to the Future, “I'm afraid you're just too darn loud.”
I mean this in the best way possible, but Here Are the Young Men is a repulsive feature powered by a cast of despicable characters. It's gritty and real and made me sick to my stomach at multiple points. It's not a film I'll ever have the desire to rediscover, but it's certainly one of those experiences that you won't be able to scrub from your brain. It's powerful yet disgusting and just realistic enough that it makes you worry about the people out there like these young lads.