Here Are the Young Men
Bring together three of the most promising young actors of a generation and give them a substance-fuelled script enamoured with juvenile escapades, and Here Are the Young Men is pretty much what you get: three inspired and wonderfully executed performances of a hallucination-infused and confused screenplay.
An adaptation of Rob Doyle’s 2016 novel of the same name, Here Are the Young Men is Eoin Macken’s fourth and most adventurous foray into feature film directing, transporting the page-turning, visceral teenage story into on-screen viewing, with the blessing of a terrific cast, including the likes of Finn Cole and Anya Taylor Joy. With a release delayed over a year (like many others during the pandemic), Macken’s latest piece of artistic cinema is eagerly anticipated, even more so due to the rise in prominence of its stars since the original casting, and also from the ominous melancholy of the original book.
The end of school is a hallmark occasion in the life of any teenager, whether for good or bad, and for Dublin adolescents Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman), Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), and the deranged Kearney (Finn Cole), this summer is set to be like no other. Falling into an endless spiral of alcohol, drugs and romantic exploration, the trio live like kings until a haunting accident splits their untiring freedom into three very different directions, making the best summer of their lives one they will never forget.
Along with the pill popping and cocaine snorting, there is a heavy dose of melodrama, lurching from reality to the subconscious imagination, as a booming soundtrack of The Chemical Brothers, Joy Division and Primal Scream fills every inch of every scene. The acting is the most impressive element by a country mile, but this comes as no surprise, given the never-ending combined list of accolades and nominations the cast have accumulated in their fledgling careers.
Finn Cole is undoubtedly a lovely person in the real world, but his character Kearney truly is a nasty piece of work. In arguably the standout performance, the actor transforms into a sickly monster, painting an unnervingly maniacal picture with his eyes alone and injecting fear into the soul of the audience as well as Chapman, who himself reaches into the darkest corners of his emotional range as his own reality becomes warped by his environment. Jen is plainly written as a figure of desire, far more restrained than the three boys, but the character is given more life thanks to its portrayal by Anya Taylor Joy, who is once again a shining beacon of hope in a plot so dark in nature. It must also be said, given only one actor of the leading four actually hails from Irish pastures, that all of their accents are more or less infallible, adding delectable flair rather than accidentally detracting from their performances.
One can understand how, as a novel, this story would make for engrossing reading, exploring the lives, emotions, relationships and burning naivety of a group of teenagers who experience an immense amount of trauma, and the film carries itself well before unfortunately tailing off into a less believable realm. James Mather’s expressive cinematography keeps the viewer gripped until the flame-filled end, but it isn’t enough to offer clarity in the narrative purpose or direction through the fog of restless and mindless activity.
Here Are the Young Men is released digitally on demand on 30th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Here Are the Young Men here: