Here Are The Young Men (2021)

Director: Eoin Macken

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Dean-Charles Chapman, Finn Cole, Anya Taylor-Joy, Emmet J Scanlan, Travis Fimmel, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Conleth Hill, Ralph Ineson, Susan Lynch

Dublin, 2003. In the opening moments, we see Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman) walking towards a church, as his voiceover apologises for some of the choices he made, emphasising the word some. Having left school, he plans to enjoy one last summer of adolescence, spent with his friends Kearney (Finn Cole) and Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Their thrill-seeking intentions are to drink, take drugs, and party, except everything changes after they witness a tragic turn of events.

What the trio saw stays with them, as the trauma affects them in different ways. Matthew is driven to do something with his life, which includes getting a job and asking out his crush, while Rez sadly falls into a depression, and most startling is how Kearney is affected. Already a short-tempered individual who was kicked out of school, he soon ventures down a nihilistic path "for the buzz", camera in hand to film his dreadful acts. It's an excellent showcase for Finn Cole, portraying somebody whose attitudes are a reflection of his father (Conleth Hill), a man constantly demeaning his son and disregarding his feelings. It's unfortunate the rest of the cast have little to do, as Dean-Charles Chapman mainly reacts, while Ferdia Walsh-Peelo feels forgotten about by the film. Coming out the best is Anya Taylor-Joy, whose role feels in service of our lead, as she puts more into it than she's given.

Writer and director Eoin Macken captures the youthful thrills of partying with your friends with no worries about the future, as the drunk scenes are shot with such energy. His most ambitious moments see dream sequences occurring on a talk show set, with Travis Fimmel chewing the scenery as an outlandish presenter. These instances work to depict the characters warped desires, showing their thoughts in grisly detail. What's less effective is when these sequences bleed out into their daily lives, feeling out of place with each occurrence. There's also a tendency to spell things out for the viewers, especially during the dream sequences, and the latter half of the story goes down less effective avenues.

At first glance, the title may seem an odd one, yet it serves as an effective warning. Not just for Kearney embodying toxic masculinity, also reflecting those who enable him, turning a blind eye to his awful behaviour until it affects somebody close to them. There are more effective condemnations of toxic masculinity out there, although this one does decent work.

Here Are The Young Men is available on Digital Download from April 30th, and on DVD from May 10th