Thursday, May 7, 2009

Young Adam (2003)

Sexual, erotic thriller--great combo of McGregor and Swinton

Young Adam is a 2003 British drama film written and directed by David Mackenzie, based on the novel of the same name by Alexander Trocchi, which was first published in 1957. It is set in Glasgow, Scotland, in the 1950s and stars Ewan McGregor. It was rated 18 certificate by the BBFC and NC-17 by the MPAA.

The film follows the exploits of Joe (McGregor), an amoral young drifter who has ended up working on one of Glasgow's river barges. It deals with lust and sin, as one sees Joe moving from one brief affair to the next as he tries to get away from a guilty secret.

The films focus on translating the novels first person perspective is clearly an obsession for this director. Never is the audiences attention allowed outside of Joe's point of view. We see only what he sees, we hear nothing more and we remember his life in little snatches, moments of dark disgusting and secret clarity he keeps from the world.

The film starts with a corpse, a barely dressed woman floating in the Clyde that is fished out by Joe; a young man working the barges for reasons that are not immediately clear. This brutal beginning in which we see Joe lay a tender hand on the cold dead flesh of the girl begins the film with a level of tension that rarely leaves the screen. Through his actions and - more importantly - his inactions we peel away the outer layers of a man on the run from himself, from responsibility and from guilt. We see him commit two murders by mission of inaction and we see him quietly dealing with that in one last lingering shot that tells us he will never change.

Joe is sexually driven to destroy life around him and he uses sex as a weapon against himself and against the possibility of settling or creating a future. He could be a writer, but he lacks the courage to read his own work. He could be a father, but he cannot face the thought of commitment. He could be a lover, but he makes love to women only as a means to an end, rejecting and pushing them away once the act is completed.

Young Adam Theatrical Trailer

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