Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 8, 2021)
When you hear the title to 2020’s Here Are the Young Men, does any particular genre leap to mind? Not for me, it doesn’t.
According to the Blu-ray’s press release, Men provides a “coming of age, social disobedience thrill ride”. We’ll see about that.
Based on Rob Doyle’s 2015 novel, Men takes us back to Dublin circa 2003. There we meet three recent high school graduates: Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman), Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and Joseph (Finn Cole).
Delighted to finish school, the pals look forward to a summer of freedom before they officially “become men”. However, not all goes according to hedonistic plan and tragedy mars this period.
I’d refer to “coming of age” tales as a dime a dozen, but I think that overvalues them. With so many stories told in the same genre, Men needs to find something different to say if it aspires to stand out from that crowd.
In some ways, Men does differentiate itself, but not in a good way. Instead, we find a messy, barely coherent exploration of developing manhood without much to actually involve the viewer.
The Blu-ray’s advertising highlights an “all-star cast”, but that seems like a stretch. Chapman has some recognition value from Game of Thrones and 1917, but his two co-leads lack much to make them known to the general public.
We do find Anya Taylor-Joy as classmate/Matthew’s new girlfriend Jen. Since she recently hosted Saturday Night Live, I guess she qualifies as a star, though I wouldn’t call her a tremendously prominent “name”.
Anyway, the film does gather a fairly talented group – and it proceeds to waste them entirely due to the movie’s absence of memorable roles or narrative development. Could it present a useful study of burgeoning adulthood mixed with PTSD/grief?
Sure – but it doesn’t. Instead, Men mostly feels like a collection of random events without much real meaning or dramatic impact.
Nothing about Men musters characters who stand out from the genre norms. Each of the three male leads breaks into clichés: Matthew the one with a promising future if he gets his act together, Rez the self-destructive one, and Joseph the aggressive nutball.
It doesn’t help that Men tries to spice up the proceedings via the characters’ frequent visions/dreams. These just feel like pretentious padding and they add nothing to the proceedings.
Even at a mere 96 minutes, Men wears out its welcome well before it ends. Despite a promising cast, the movie lacks consistency or compelling drama.