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Here Are The Young Men ★★★



Director: Eoin Macken

Starring: Dean Charles Chapman, Finn Cole, Anya Taylor-Joy, Emmett J Scanlan

Starring: Dean Charles Chapman, Finn Cole, Anya Taylor-Joy, Emmett J Scanlan, Travis Fimmel, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Conleth Hill

Released: April 30th (VOD in the UK)

Leaving education is a right of passage we all go through, and the insecurities of where our future may lay are etched in the back of our minds. In many ways, it is the last time you will be genuinely free, as your next path in life will take you on the road to become an adult. Here Are The Young Men is a film that attempts to explore this hazy period in one’s young life.

Aimless teenager Matthew (Chapman) and his disaffected friends leave school into a social vacuum of drink, drugs and thrill-seeking in one last Summer of adolescence. Matthew romantically yearns after his free-spirited friend Jen (Taylor-Joy) and struggles to maintain his increasingly disturbing relationship with the magnetic but sadistic Kearney (Cole). Whilst their precocious friend Rez (Walsh Peelo) has started to succumb to paranoia and depression. Matthew and the group are soon led by the deranged Kearney into a world of nihilistic violence, falling into shocking acts of transgression that will irrevocably change their lives.

Eoin Macken takes the viewer on a messy journey that may not be evidently clear. This vivid sense of senselessness almost feels like a metaphor for this confusing stage of our younger years. The film opens up with Matthew, who is attending a funeral, but then we go a few months back in time to where everything started to change in his life. Matthew is making the wrong choices along with drinking a lot and consuming drugs. This sense of instability does shake you in your teens, life is about to change and the people around you may disappear. Matthew is clearly feeling the pressure of making choices and Macken throws you into these chaotic boozing sessions to understand his confusion and discomfort.

Macken laces Here Are The Young Men with these unhinged vignettes mainly set in a talk show setting. It almost feels as the inner and darker thoughts are bubbling over and planting a seed of doubt within their day to day decision making. They are pretty relentless moments that attempt to challenge you, but they never seem to be impactful. We can be anything and say anything within our minds, but Macken’s execution feels flat and uneven. The fear of change is a lot more beguiling when we are outside this bizarre realm of the subconscious. The narrative does suffer when we plunge our way out of them, and it takes too long for Macken to reset the course of the film.

Matthew, Kearney and Rez are an unlikely trio, but their unity through the party lifestyle is what holds their union. Once we are introduced to Jen, played by the wonderful Anya Taylor-Joy, we see the change in Matthew for the better. His life seems to have a more straightforward pathway as they begin a relationship together, but Kearney is the one who is taking the group down with him. Kearney almost feels like many of my former school chums, the big fish in a small pond who becomes swallowed up by the reality of the world. There is a genuine sense of reality from Finn Cole’s performance beyond the confident facade is someone who doesn’t understand his purpose in the world.

Here Are The Young Men is a testing film that explores the most formidable years of youth but is a cautionary exploration of how everything can take a sharp turn. Eoin Macken gives a lot of trust within his young cast, and they evoke a true sense of realism even within the unhinged abyss that is the subconscious.

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