Young Adam - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Young Adam Reviews

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February 19, 2016
Dour Scottish erotic drama worth watching for Ewan McGregor's performance alone. Perfectly recreated depiction of 1950s Glascow and the River Clyde. The film in overstriving for effect leaves the viewer feeling detached.
Where does the title come from? Still baffled by that. The barge (which is actually owned by Ella, not her husband) is named the Atlantic Eve. Maybe this gives a clue.
Joe is very passive in his approach to women, even though he beds every single (or married!) one of them he comes across. More interesting sides to his character are not really explored, particularly his writing. We see him reading a lot but at some stage has given up on being a successful writer and throws his typewriter into the Clyde. One of his girlfriends who was supporting him while he tried to write his novel accused him of not writing popular stuff, I would have loved to have learnt more about that side of his life.
"I Made Some Custard"
It was during that scene I actually laughed, yes LAUGHED. Joe is sitting around trying to write his novel when his girlfriend, who has been supporting him for the last eight months, arrives home from work and accuses him of wasting his day while she's been bringing home the bacon. She asks him what he's been doing all day and Joe (straight-faced) replies he made some custard! McGregor is wonderful as he tells her that, perfect expression - I could imagine the actors bursting out laughing as the camera stopped rolling. Anyhow what happens after that sees our hero at his least passive! Controversially, his use of violence here is portrayed as possibly part of a sex game. I got the impression the director doesn't allow Cathie to be the total victim but we are not sure how far she is a willing partner or not. Joe doesn't console her afterwards or follow-up for her pleasure or tend to her. This mix of violence and sex is no doubt disturbing but their relationship lasted 16 more months and Cathie kicked him out in the end and they parted amicably, both agreeing their time together was up. Director's attitude unclear.
The score by David Byrne is very appropriate for the mood, with the sound of the cello coming out underneath all the broody goings-on.
½ June 1, 2015
David Mackenzie seems to have a knack for coming up with some genuinely unique concepts but tends to have hard time translating his ideas into an effective movie. This is a bleak, humorless and and unsatisfying experimental film does manage to build intensity thanks to the talents of both Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton. The only reason this film manages to rank this extra half-star is in thanks to their performances that overcome what can only be called a cinematic mistake.
May 13, 2015
This movie is so much the opposite of uplifting that you think Gary Oldman ought to be in it. But it's honestly made, and its second half does linger in the memory.
½ January 24, 2015
I have come to know of Emily Mortimer because of Young Adam. Watched it because of Ewan McGregor.
½ July 31, 2014

Lacked any real impact, in its conclusion. Yeah, McGregor's character is a scumbag loner who doesn't take responisbility for his actions, so what, you don't care for the guy. It was a good preformance though.
July 20, 2014
A Fabulous Scottish dark movie, too underrated i must say
½ May 29, 2014
Well-crafted film with strong performances and a pervading, restrained sadness that echoes its Beat heritage--A patient, thoughtful film for patient, thoughtful viewers.. Haunting film noir!!
April 21, 2014
Sensitive well-handled drama that's very thoughtful offering realism above any satisfying conclusions.
Super Reviewer
½ November 9, 2013
Dark British drama written and directed by David Mackenzie based on the 1954 novel of the same name by Alexander Trocchi is not something to watch for happy occasions. That is why I decided to watch it early in the morning when everyone is asleep. The film is set in Scotland in 1954 where shiftless young drifter Joe Taylor works on a barge which operates from Glasgow, on the River Clyde. He shares the cramped on-board living quarters with its operators, Les and Ella Gault, and their young son Jim. One day Joe and Les pull the body of a young woman, naked except for a petticoat, from the water. Via flashbacks, we learn Joe knew her, and scenes involving his relationship with office worker Cathie Dimly are juxtaposed with those set in the present time...

It is very cleverly constructed film and holds the attention to the end, and the naturalistic acting has its own, considerable, power. Tilda Swinton's performance was outstanding and Ewan McGregor had no need for his easy charm - it was tough, it was rough... but both of them were perfect choice for a depressing film exuding hopelessness and inviting us to pity the characters! There was no desire to share in their tragic condition - the atmosphere was always in the mood of "they deserved it". Even when the storytelling looks disjointed, it was a wonderful job from David Mckenzie deliberately jumping back and forth in time without warning, so that the meaning of events and the connections among them emerge retrospectively. Created mood of unease and dislocation follows creepingly and persisting even after certain crucial mysteries are solved. The understated score (by David Byrne) was just adding to the whole experience of male narcissism, as expressed through erotic need. The camera work in this film is something many should learn from - precise and visually eye catching. Recommended for a quiet morning or night!
November 9, 2013
Tilda Swinton is just phenomenal inside.
And the feature successfully depicts the colorless, chilly mood story backdrop as well. Which, however, turns out to be too pale & dull at the same time.
November 5, 2013
A story of lost love and lustful sex disguised as romance, Mackenzie does not aim to please in the conventional sense with his uneasy work in Young Adam, an adaptation of Alexander Trochi's debut novel. Its representation of a marginalised life widely lacks embellishments and this approach very often makes film feel nothing but uncomfortable and cold. Yet, it still feels daring and ambitious in its brutal dealing with themes of deep internal conflicts, and Ewan McGregor's performance figures among his personal best.
October 26, 2013
A good film but a bit too much jumping around with the timeline at times making it confusing to follow. At times it did seem slow and monotonous but the story was very good and also very disturbing.
½ October 23, 2013
Horrible, yet haunting.
½ September 7, 2013
Not a great movie, but worth seeing. Strong acting performances from all the main characters, sensational setting that pulls the viewer in and surrounds the audience like a think english fog, until you feel just how lost McGregor's character has become.
August 27, 2013
Nothing like seeing British guys
½ August 25, 2013
Don't watch this movie. It's wildly misogynistic and the protagonist is a detestable twat.
July 19, 2013
Why do you think this is titled 'Young Adam'?
½ June 13, 2013
Dirty and unpleasant film with a dismal storyline and bleak characters. Great if you want to see Ewan and Tilda naked.
June 7, 2013
Just grim, with a main character you WANT to see caught and punished.
April 2, 2013
Very dark. Very disturbing. This film reminded me of Ian McEwan's early short stories - the bleak, hopeless world.

The soundtrack went very well with the imagery. I was particularly struck by Tilda Swinton's performance as Ella - from the long, whispy body hair to the crumbs falling from her mouth, she was every inch the bargewoman. Ewan McGregor was great, of course. He's a phenomenal actor, perhaps my favorite.

This film is not for the faint of heart. 17 and up.
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