Here are the Young Men, based on Rob Doyle’s novel, was adapted and directed by Eoin Macken and was shown as part of the Galway Film Fleadh on Saturday, 11th July. The film follows Matthew, Kearney and Rez, three trouble-making young guys that have just escaped the mundane clutches of secondary school and are readying themselves for a summer of hedonism and the impending uncertainty of post-school life. Already seemingly jaded by the 2003 Celtic Tiger Dublin that they see around them, their outlook flips when a young girl is knocked over by a car right before their eyes. This tragic event underpins their summer; their responses leading to drastic measures and destruction.
The trio’s world is far from glamorous yet there’s an energetic vibe; they are always seeking out the next thrill. On the one hand there is drugs and parties and a minimal amount of sobriety, yet they are still playing video games in their small stuffy bedrooms in their family homes. There is a glimpse of maturity and a brighter future through Matthew’s relationship with Jen (Anya Taylor- Joy) but the dominant relationship in this film consists of Matthew trying to navigate his connection with the sadistically charged Kearney whose actions have become increasingly hostile and dangerous following the accident they witnessed.
There is a high level of repressed emotions going on with these characters. The film encapsulates these under-the-surface feelings by showing the young men on television screens in an imaginary game-show situation. It’s an enjoyable deep dive in nostalgia for early noughties technology- there’s a glimpse of what appears to be a Nokia 3310 – however, TV is used here to tap into the emotions that the characters are really feeling. While the young men are stilted in expressing their response to the accident, they freely express themselves while performing on TV. In these high energy fantasy game shows the boys discuss how they really feel, want to be seen and how they understand themselves and their lives; existing in opposition to their difficulties to express emotion in real life with one another.
Violence pervades this film as a central theme. The world as they see it is against them; uninvolved parents, disregarded by their teachers at school and the future an unsettling question mark. Following on from the accident of the young girl getting knocked down, the film explores the different ways violence can manifest. Each of the three characters respond differently to what they have witnessed. Rez’s internalization and self-destructive manners increase whereas Kearney, already hot-headed explodes into a sadistic thrill seeker, whose actions can no longer be trusted, all in the pursuit to feel something. Matthew has to grapple with both of these contrasting violent responses, resulting in his own world and sense of self eventually crumbling.
Centre any work on three under 20s and the idea of coming of age will always arise. Here are the Young Men is a dark and drug fuelled coming of age that pushes the characters to their furthest edges; coming out of the weed fog to become aware of the harshness of the world and of having moral responsibilities. The film explores the psyche of young men; unable to discuss how they feel their desires and confusion are externalised through sadistic and self-destructive acts. Overall, the film boasts some excellent performances and is an engaging reflection on toxic masculinity and the futility of the youthful highs that quickly lose their lustre – drink, drugs, and video games.
DIR/WRI: Eoin Macken • DOP: James Mather • ED: Colin Campbell • DES: Michael Moynihan • MUS: Ryan Potesta • PRO: Richard Bolger, Noah C.Haeussner, Edwina Casey • CAST: Dean-Charles Chapman, Finn Cole, Anya Taylor- Joy, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo
Here are the Young Men screened on 11th July 2020 as part of the Galway Film Fleadh 2020 (7-12 July).