Here Are the Young Men is a 2021 Irish drama written directed by Eoin Macken, based on the book of the same name by Rob Doyle. With its surreal scenes, it almost feels like it’s trying to be a modern-day Irish version of Trainspotting for the younger generation, and while it no doubt represents teenage life fairly well, it’s ultimately rather underwhelming.
Here Are the Young Men follows three Dublin teenagers as they leave school to spend the summer in a haze of drink and drugs. There’s Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman), who finishes his final day of school and immediately throws away his uniform. He meets up with the deranged and psychotic Kearney (Finn Cole), who’d previously been expelled from school, and the nihilistic, drug dealing Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Within the opening scenes, they’ve taken drugs in a church, broken into and graffitied a school and trashed Matthew’s teacher’s (Ralph Ineson) car. Days later the three boys head to the beach and meet up with cool girl Jen (Anya Taylor-Joy), with who Matthew is fairly enamoured. On their way home, the boys witness a shocking accident where a young girl is hit and killed by a passing car, which soon begins to haunt them.
Kearney travels to America, where his exploits and partying lifestyle is told via a rather surreal dream-like sequence featuring Travis Fimmel as an unusual talk show host telling Kearney’s story. Rez attempts suicide, and Matthew hooks up with Jen only for his relationship to be put under pressure by his paranoia due to drug-taking. Soon the trio’s partying lifestyle begins to take its toll and ends up changing their lives forever.
As Matthew, Dean-Charles Chapman puts in a solid and believable performance and in fact, the entire cast here are faultless. Finn Cole is scarily crazy and repulsive as Kearney and Anya Taylor-Joy is as charismatic and engaging as she is in everything else. Even the brief appearances by Ralph Ineson and Conleth Hill, as Kearney’s dad, are spot on. There’s a great soundtrack too that really blends with the rebellious nature of the film, featuring the likes of The Chemical Brothers and Primal Scream. It’s just a shame that the rest of the film doesn’t meet the high standards set by such a brilliant cast and soundtrack.
The story is a little predictable and has a repetitive nature in which the boys get drunk and high, do something bad and then after a brief moment of regret, are back into the same routine partying again. Aside from the final act, nothing very much happens and there’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before. The over-reliance on slow-motion gets rather grating after a while too. The biggest problem though is the surreal dream sequences with Travis Fimmel’s chat show host. There’s nothing wrong with Fimmel’s performance, in fact, he’s as bonkers as you’d expect from such a host. There’s even a blink and you’ll miss it role for Noomi Rapace. The problem is that these sequences just don’t seem to fit in with the rest of the film. Unlike similar scenes in Trainspotting, they just don’t work and leave you feeling rather confused.
Here Are the Young Men sadly doesn’t offer any new insights into the drug-taking, partying lifestyle. However, some great performances from an up and coming young cast at least make this a decent watch.
Signature Entertainment presents Here are the Young Men on Digital Platforms 30th April and on DVD on 10th May
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!