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  Here are the Young Men Masculinity Suffers
Year: 2020
Director: Eoin Macken
Stars: Dean-Charles Chapman, Finn Cole, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Travis Fimmel, Conleth Hill, Ralph Ineson, Susan Lynch, Emmett J Scanlan, Lola Petticrew, Don Wycherley, Steve Wall, Sarah Flood, Croi Helnwein, Carl Shaaban, Chris Newman, Noomi Rapace
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman) reflects on his life so far at the funeral of one of his friends, taking some time out from the service to observe the mourners from a distance. How did he get from there to here? A short while before, it was June 2003 and he was finally leaving school, after having a heart to heart that wasn't with the headmaster and setting out in search of his friends. Kearney (Finn Cole) was the wild one, the unpredictable one, and Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) was more of a Goth type with a depressive side, but Kearney would go to any lengths to lift the mood, and that included encouraging them to vandalise a classroom before they went, and more than that, smash up the headmaster's car as demonstration of their rebellious nature. But what was that worth?

Not very much, on the evidence of Here are the Young Men, an adaptation by director Eoin Macken of Rob Doyle's Irish novel which found its admirers, though the film version faced a trickier proposition given how it was somewhat overfamiliar in its depiction of youth running wild. Though not very many youth, as the most we saw was the central trio and the rest were largely extras, with the exception of a scene stealer who was obviously headed for bigger things even a brief time after this was made before her bigger breaks of 2020. She was Anya Taylor-Joy, and in a just world we would have been able to leave all the toxic masculinity behind and follow her Jen character instead, because frankly she was a lot better company than any of the borderline mentally ill boys we were supposed to concentrate on.

But for some reason, even this far into the twenty-first century, characters such as Jen did not generally receive their own movies, unless she was some kind of budding comedienne, which she was not. This was a pity, as she could really do with the attention for the admiration she gets from Matthew, and indeed Kearney, simply did not do her justice, resulting in the audience willing her to leave this go-nowhere, seaside town far behind and find somewhere to blossom. But as you would perceive, this was not the story of Jen, it was not titled Here is the Young Woman, therefore we were forced to concern ourselves with Matthew and Kearney's relationship, as Rez sidelined himself after a suicide attempt halfway through. They appeared to have no other acquaintances, though Rez has a girlfriend apparently included for the film's sole, clothed sex scene - I mean they were being adult, but not that adult.

There are limits after all, and accordingly we do not see what happens to the down and out who Kearney tricks Matthew into giving heroin laced with rat poison that will surely have horrible consequences, but we are not asked to worry too much about that, as it was more about how Matthew felt about his possible complicity, which seeing as how it was a surprise to him as well, was none. There had been this sort of drama across television for decades, and the movies simply gave it a gloss that it did not perhaps deserve, though Macken had a knack for rendering his low budget looking more substantial than it might otherwise have been. The notion that lad culture was as much an exhibiting of derangement and deep personal problems rather than bravado was an interesting one, and the film did do enough with it to persuade you it was valid, yet the purpose was to depress you and leave you sobered up, just like Jen after her ill-advised binge drinking in the vicinity of Kearney (who has a problem with women), which is not everyone's idea of entertainment. Typical scene: the lads witness a little girl run over and killed by a car. Make of that all you need to. Music by Ryan Potesta.

[Signature Entertainment presents Here are the Young Men on Digital 30th April and DVD 10th May.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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