July 5, 2021
Well Go USA;
$24.98 DVD, $29.98 Bu-ray;
Stars Dean-Charles Chapman, Finn Cole, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Travis Fimmel, Conleth Hill, Noomi Rapace.
A trio of teenagers learns the consequences of a carefree transition into adulthood in the chaotic Here Are the Young Men, an Irish production based on the same-named 2014 coming-of-age novel by Rob Doyle.
The film stars Dean-Charles Chapman, best known for playing Tommen on “Game of Thrones,” as Matthew, a sensitive but impressionable young man caught up in the antics of his pals Kearney (Finn Cole) and Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Set in 2003, the story follows their misadventures during the summer after they graduate high school, facing an uncertain future with a steady stream of booze, pills and parties.
Their outlook on life is shattered when they witness a little girl hit by a car immediately after running by them. The tragedy alters their perspectives enough to lead them down a dangerous path as they confront their own personal demons.
Kearney heads off on a vacation to America, and returns with almost no regard for human life. Rez is caught in a spiral of depression and attempts suicide. Matthew is caught in the middle, unwilling to reject the friendship of Kearney, even as it threatens his budding relationship with Jen (Anya Taylor-Joy), an ambitious, responsible girl who dreams of becoming the first female head of the United Nations.
The film intercuts between the personal conflicts the boys have with other characters in their lives, and a sort of stream of consciousness hallucination inspired by their drug-addled states as they process their own place in the world. Kearney’s story dovetails into the fantasy of a bizarre American talk show where the sadistic host pushes the boundaries of exploring peoples’ fears. This prompts Kearney to undertake an increasingly dangerous series of pranks that he videotapes for his own amusement.
His nihilism eventually leads to a shocking act of betrayal that will push Matthew to the brink of performing an unspeakable act of his own.
The subject matter hints at the edginess of a Larry Clark movie such as Kids or Bully, mixed with the frenetic energy of a Trainspotting or Clockwork Orange. While visually interesting, the film steers away from graphic depictions of sex or violence, preferring to let the symbolism of its imagery do the talking. While it’s easy enough to root for Matthew given his predicaments, the standout of the cast is Taylor-Joy, whose vibrant presence grounds the otherwise aimless proceedings.