What the world needs now is yet another movie about disaffected, angry, young white dudes … and along comes “Here Are the Young Men” (now available on VOD).
“HAtYM” takes place in Dublin in 2003. The fellas in question are Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman), Kearney (Finn Cole, “Peaky Blinders”) and Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, “Vikings”). The trio has just finished secondary school and they’re engaging in celebratory drugging and vandalism – going so far as to smash up the car of their Headmaster (Ralph Ineson, “The Witch”) with a crowbar.
Rolling around in a drug-fueled haze, the lads witness a little girl get hit and killed by a bus. The incident causes them to question their own mortality, but each guys’ response to this quandary varies significantly. Matthew gets a job at a tire factory and begins dating childhood friend Jen (Anya Taylor-Joy) in earnest. Kearney jets off to America to escape his abusive father (Conleth Hill, Lord Varys on “Game of Thrones”), visit his ne’er-do-well brother (Chris Newman), shag a bunch of birds and possibly kill a homeless man like he’s Patrick Bateman or some shit. Rez, now seeing life as pointless, unsuccessfully attempts suicide by throwing himself into a canal.
“HAtYM” is an adaptation of Rob Doyle’s novel and is written and directed by Irish actor-turned-filmmaker Eoin Macken. (Macken’s “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” director Paul W.S. Anderson serves as an executive producer.) There is much to admire about “HAtYM.” Having been to Dublin, I enjoyed seeing the Irish city on screen. The acting is universally pretty solid. I didn’t like Chapman much as Tommen on “Game of Thrones,” but he’s really grown and come into his own in films such as “Blinded by the Light,” “1917” and this. Cole is captivatingly unhinged calling to mind performances such as Robert De Niro as Johnny Boy in “Mean Streets” or Robert Carlyle as Begbie in “Trainspotting.” My crush on Taylor-Joy only intensified with her work here. Jen is pretty much the only character with any sense of decency. Her Irish accent is impressive as well.
I’m ultimately fairly conflicted about “HAtYM” as a whole. Ineson’s Headmaster tells Matthew, “You are defined by what you do.” There are posters for the movie sporting this quote as well. I don’t disagree with the sentiment, but if it holds water then these titular young men are almost entirely repugnant and unrepentant. The picture doesn’t celebrate these fellas and their actions … nor does it condemn them. The audience is left to languish with and make heads or tails of them. Additionally, there’s a fantastical framing device in which the lads appear on a talk show Kearney’s Dad watches, which doesn’t work in the slightest. Travis Fimmel of “Vikings” plays the show’s host in a truly bizarre and off-putting performance.
“HAtYM” is well-made and well-acted. I just wish I knew what specifically it’s attempting to say. I’m not sure who the movie is for save for fans of TV shows “Game of Thrones,” “Vikings” and “Peaky Blinders” and the movie “The Witch” as there’s so much cast overlap.