14th May2021

‘Here are the Young Men’ DVD Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Dean-Charles Chapman, Finn Cole, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ferida Walsh-Peelo, Ralph Ineson, Travis Fimmel, Conleith Hill | Written and Directed by Eoin Macken

About 4 or 5 years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing an up-and-coming director about his debut feature Leopard. A really low-budget independent Irish flick that had all the integrity and power of a Shane Meadows movie and showed us that Eoin Macken was well on his way to be more than just a leading man on American hospital drama The Night Shift. I was genuinely smitten with Leopard and thought it was a powerhouse story told with style, grace and intelligence. Macken was a director I was now aware of and would have to keep an eye on going forward. What would follow was a hell of a run on American hospital drama The Night Shift as TC Callahan; and a role on the prematurely cancelled George R Martin show Nightflyers for Syfy. Working away, honing his craft and amassing a wealth of talent, till it was time to step back behind the camera for Here Are the Young Men!

Matthew Connelly (Chapman) is finishing up school for the summer and is preparing to spend his days footloose and fancy free with his best friends. What a truly great time to be alive when the world is at your feet. However as he and his mates Rez (Walsh-Peelo) and Kearney (Cole) try to live like there is no tomorrow they are about to figure out that growing up can be painful and if you’re not careful you may just lose yourself. Things really start to spiral when our trio witness the death of a young girl and in their own different self-destructive ways try to either come to terms or mask the ordeal.

There has been a ton of attention on actor Joe Cole over the last couple of years but make no mistake his brother Finn has been putting in performance after performance and for me it has to be said that while everyone in Here Are the Young Men are great, Finn Cole is remarkable. Kearney is a role that could very easily tip the scales into absurdity, in no small part due to director Macken’s somewhat Aronovsky-inspired choices, but this young actor embodies the very nature of a young man’s self destruction as he struggles deeply with his own self worth and his pursuit of finding himself.

After his stint as Tommen on Game of Thrones, we recently got to see Dean-Charles Chapman in 1917 and what a flick that was! Here though we are getting, what I would say, a more well rounded and layered performance. I was a big fan of what Chapman was doing here and he didn’t disappoint. Beautifully partnered with Anya Taylor-Joy, the chemistry on show with these two is palpable.

Is Here Are the Young Men a perfect movie? No, mot by a long shot… BUT… this movie, much like Requiem for a Dream or Trainspotting or Fight Club or Kids, is telling a coming of age/realisation story of a certain period in time… Drugs, Raves, MTV and Reality TV were the in-thing sucking the soul out of impressionable young adults who were finding their place in life – which pretty much meant finding out they were potentially on their own! Macken frames this beautifully by having this awkward yet super sincere opening with teacher Mr Landerton (Ralph Ineson “Chris Finch bloody good rep”) bidding the young man farewell while offering the hand of guidance. I see what you were doing there.

Some other names of note in here were Travis Fimmel in a beautifully surreal and dare I say it well suited role. Conleith Hill pops in as the typical soapbox TV dad. You know what? I have barely mentioned Vikings star Ferida Walsh-Peelo and this is in no way a slight on him because, as Rez, he is fine but sadly he doesn’t get a whole bunch of time and is kind of just that “forgotten friend” in the story that may inevitably end up harming himself. My problem was at times it felt like the movie had forgotten about him. It’s a small gripe but a gripe nonetheless because I liked the character and want to see this actor push ahead.

As a director Eoin Macken is 2 for 2 in my book. I loved the dark and miserable tones he had for Leopard, a movie that has stuck with me and here he was telling a just as dark story but threw some bright colours and pop-y music at us; and at times we are still just filled with a sense of dread and disbelief.

Yeah I really enjoyed Here Are the Young Men and hope you all have a chance to check it out.

**** 4/5

Here Are the Young Men is out now on DVD and Digital from Signature Entertainment.

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