Young Adam (5/10)
2004 by Tony Medley
If you want to see a
dark movie, this is it. Set in Scotland in the ‘50s, Joe (Ewan
McGregor) is a selfish cad who is living with a married couple, Ella (Tilda
Swinton) and Les (Peter Mullan), on Ella’s barge. Joe is sleeping with
Ella whenever he gets the chance. As the film opens, Joe and Les pull a
partially clothed dead woman out of the water. It turns out she was
Joe’s girl friend, Cathie (Emily Mortimer). While the plot of the film
is to try to determine what happened to Cathie and whodunit, the
underlying theme is a character study of Joe and the lower class people
who populate his life.
Joe gets more action
in this movie than most guys get in their entire lifetime. All he has to
do is look at a woman and she’s pulling down her panties (if you’ve
ever seen Ewan McGregor, maybe in the deplorable Down With Love (2003),
in which he had more chemistry with Tony Randall than he did with Renée
Zellweger, this does truly have to be seen to be believed).
This troubling film
is written and directed by David Mackenzie, adapted from the novel by
Scottish Beat writer Alexander Trocchi, who was a controversial poet. In
fact, when he attended the Edinburgh International Writers’ Conference
in 1962, Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid denounced him as “cosmopolitan
If this film is any
indication of the book, he wrote a scummy novel. The film is rated
NC-17, because of one prolonged scene of oral sex. But it contains
profligate sexual acts throughout and includes full male and female
fortunately, depending on your point of view), the sex is anything but
sensual. There is no love or tenderness or affection involved in any of
the sexual acts performed. It’s just rutting for the sake of rutting.
And it’s neither sexy nor attractive.
What’s good about
this film is that the characters are true to their nature. Joe is a
weak, manipulative user who cares about nobody but himself, and he
remains true to that to the end of the film. This is a dark, depressing
film that will appeal to some, but you have to be prepared for it and in
the right mood.
March 12, 2004