Dublin teenagers Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman), Joseph (Finn Cole) and Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) leave school and find themselves free falling into a world of drink, drugs and thrill-seeking. The trio witnesses the death of a young girl, which impacts each of them very differently, and their self-destructive behaviour starts to pull the friends apart as they each deal their own issues. Matthew is drawn to the beautiful Jen (Anya Taylor-Joy) but isn’t ready to commit, Joseph becomes increasingly sadistic and violent, and Rez battles depression and paranoia. Can the three friends get themselves back on the straight-and-narrow or is everything changed forever?
‘Here Are The Young Men’ is based on Rob Doyle’s book and directed by Eoin Macken (‘The Night Shift’, ‘Merlin’) who also wrote the screenplay. The film captures a short period of time in the lives of three best friends who discover they are friends due to circumstance rather than choice. At the beginning of the film, the three are seemingly tight but as the story unfolds, the cracks quickly show and it becomes apparent they don’t know each other all that well after all.
Much of the film sees the three central characters partying, drinking and taking drugs, which leads to outlandish behaviour that inevitably becomes their undoing. Matthew wants to start a romance with Jen but something is holding him back and his reluctance to commit starts an unwanted love triangle with Joseph who is willing to take what he wants, regardless of the consequences. Rez is given far less to do than the other two characters, save for a failed suicide attempt that highlights his personal struggle with mental health.
The behaviour of the three characters is supposed to be a result of the death they witness but for me, the film didn’t spend enough time ensuring that part hit home. It seemed to happen quickly then the three boys were partying their way into oblivion. We get to understand Joseph better than Matthew or Rez via scenes of a bizarre American gameshow that’s taking place in his mind. I found these scenes a little jarring and while they do provide context, I wish the insights they gave had been better worked into the main storyline.
Macken gets strong performances from his leads. Finn Cole is the stand-out as the unpredictable Joseph and Dean-Charles Chapman is believable as a youth who feels disconnected from the world around him. Anya Taylor-Joy is sadly underused as Jen, providing only an object for Matthew and Joseph to fight over rather than having any substance as a character.
‘Here Are The Young Men’ is a sobering and hard-hitting films at times but I feel it could have gone deeper. Macken keeps the pace going over the film’s 96 minutes but a little more fleshing out of the story wouldn’t have gone amiss. It all feels a little too loose at times and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching an Irish version of ‘Skins’. There’s potential here in the story and Macken makes for an interesting director, I just wish we could have gone a little deeper.
Cast: Dean-Charles Chapman, Finn Cole, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Travis Fimmel Director: Eoin Macken Writers: Rob Doyle (novel), Eoin Macken (screenplay) Certificate: 15 Duration: 96 mins Released by: Signature Entertainment Release date: 30th April (VOD), 10th May (DVD) Buy ‘Here Are The Young Men’ now