Few movies are as vividly tactile as Young Adam. The way the cold blue light of Scotland envelopes everything--wooden bannisters, rippling water, rough fabric, coal soot caked in human skin, and flesh itself--makes you feel like you could reach out and touch it all. A failed writer named Joe (Ewan McGregor, Big Fish), slumming on a coal barge, finds himself drawn to barge's owner Ella (Tilda Swinton, Orlando, The Deep End), despite the presence of her husband Les (Peter Mullan, My Name is Joe). But Joe's passion is haunted by the girl he's abandoned (Emily Mortimer, Lovely & Amazing), whose memory becomes more and more powerful as a murder trial unfolds. The acting in Young Adam is magnificent, without affectation yet completely affecting. It's a moody film, but its deep engagement with its characters and the world they inhabit will make a lasting impression. --Bret Fetzer
Young Adam movie review A brooding, oportunistic former writer searches endlessly for intamacy with women he doesn't want. Running away from himself, (and the haunting memory of an ex-girlfriend), he finds himself amidst the lower working class; shoveling coal on a barge owned by a small family. Oneday he and his shipmate find the body of a young woman floating in the harbor and it triggers a string of memories from his past. He seems to leave a subtle trail of distruction and broken hearts in his wake; obscured further by disfuntion that already existed....more info
A Tale of No Redemption Ewan McGregor long ago proved he is an actor who often exceeds the screen material and leading ladies with whom he has been coupled. In Young Adam, the maturity of the actor matches the material, while an excellent supporting cast excels to create a solid film that could have been stunning in black and white format. The aimless and amoral character of Joe (McGregor) reflect in a subdued performance by McGregor that proves again he is one of the best of the younger British actors to come to the attention of film goers in the 90s. However, Young Adam is the kind of story most audiences won't warm to in its presentation of bleak 50s blue collar life that is unglamorous and dull. It is an existence that was neither fashionable nor trendy.
Joe's daily routine lacks stimulation, so he finds it in a diversion with Ella (Tilda Swinton), the wife of his employer. Swinton is cast in the unglamorous role of a middle aged woman with "thick ankles" and it is a meaty role (sorry for the pun) which many Hollywood actresses yearn to play but haven't the chops. For Joe and Ella, their sexual trysts are far from an erotic session in the sheets. They are stolen moments, sweaty, and hurried. Joe's former girlfriend, whose corpse he hauls from the river at the film's opening, is a plain working class girl. In a fit of creative frustration, Joe douses her with custard and condiments for a moment of angry sex. Their romantic reunion months later is no more than a quickie with deadly results.
Young Adam translates the short novel by Alexander Trocchi with a disenchanted eye to the era. It is a grimy film, quiet, and filled with the boredom of Glasgow coal barges, and of men and women whose lives turned to routine lacks color. In Young Adam, the characters meander into each other with a disinterested lust. One senses the aimlessness of Joe is the creation of his disinterest not only in others, but of life and what little it offers.
Whatever notoriety was made by the press about McGregor's full-frontal nudity, it is no more than another quick flash already seen in earlier films like the Pillow Book and Velvet Goldmine. But, in context with the story, nudity, both male and female, is simply matter of fact -- no seduction or salacious fleshy views. McGregor's body lacks eroticism and underscores his character's amoral nature. Tilda Swinton is a tired woman with an impotent husband and hard life. Swinton's own stunning beauty and catlike face are hardened by the role, and she is outstanding as Ella. Emily Morton, Joe's old girlfriend, is too thin to be believable as a 50s woman, the era of curvaceous figures and chubby thighs; while her small role is also underwhelming. Peter Mullen gives another workmanlike performance as a cuckold spouse, the betrayal by his friend and wife an insult to his waning masculinity. The screenplay itself underwhelms but performances of McGregor and Swinton are worth viewing. Young Adam is a mature story with little nostalgia and romance, but good performances from the talented cast, it is worth viewing and deserves a place in film libraries....more info
Young Joe Smoe and he likes it that way I'm ammending this from my origninal review at the bottom*
Ok first let's get the artsy people out of the way.
I can appreciate good cinematography. There comes a time when we have to cross a line between establishing the bleak, sameness of a situation and calling it setting up the backdrop of the shot. I'm going to go way out on a limb here and say that the weather and lighting conditions where they were shooting are pretty much the same every single damn day of the year, with a break or 2 here and there, so let's drop the camera work right now because that is hardly what this film is about.
A while back I read that Ewan McGregor had taken an awful role that was basically about nothing and went nowhere but he had a lot of sex in the movie. Being a Ewan fan I found this rather intriguing. I had actually almost forgotten about it until it showed up on cable one night. Seeing it co-starred Tilda Swinton I thought what I read must have been exaggerated, because she is known for choosing her roles careully.
The story unfolds as the men, Ewan and Ela's husband Lars, find a nearly nude dead body of a young woman whilst they are delivering goods on Ela's barge in Scotland. The body is handed over to the authorities and we are privy to domestic life aboard the barge. A child and the heavy drinking of her husband leaves Tilda Swinton's character less than satisfied, and Ewan's Joe is soon to take full advantage of her lonliness.
Events begin to unfold both in present time and flashback and we learn that Joe, while not a murderer, is not completely innocent in the death of the young girl they found drowned at the beginning of the movie. We also find that he is not an ardent lover as Ela seems to believe, just an opportunist who will have sex with any woman who is willing and ready.
On the outside he seems an everyman, just a regular Joe, but inside seethes a failed writer who seemingly hates women and in one repugnant, sadistic scene belittles the poor woman who is too in love with him to see who he really is.
He makes a half-hearted attempt to be decent at times but it is robotic, more or less going through the motions. He is willing at very turn to make his mess and walk away from it untouched. He is a repulsive person behind the facade of the everyman.
I cannot see what drew either Ewan McGregor or Tilda Swinton to doing this film. They have scenes of sex, not lovemaking, and it is as though the director said "Tilda, stick your belly out so we know you've had children, make your body as ugly as possible"-and this is a beautiful woman!
A lot of people play up Ewan McGregor's nudity in films. By now they should get over it. He's showed skin in almost everything he has done and he does in this movie also. It lasts about 1 second and looks the same as it always does. I'm never surprised that he does nudity, but I'm surprised when he takes on a role like this.
This film has no redeeming merits at all except that you are repulsed enough to keep watching it the entire way through.
*I have to say that for some reason as repulsed as I am by this movie I still watch it over and over. It has an almost mesmerizing quality to it. Having met Ewan McGregor in person he looks more himself in this than he has in any film he's been in in a long time. Maybe it is because the setting is so dull and unchanging, (it's like that in reality too) or that the people are so washed out. I don't know. I think it has to be the acting although so minimal it is almost not even there that draws one in.
Nothing has changed about the characters. I still find them all to be either faintly or grotesqly repulsive; Joe's final "triumph" more obscene every time I view it.
However, because there is something there that has this effect I'm going to bump it up to 4 stars. I still caution anyone with an easily troubled conscious (maybe that is my problem) about seeing this film. Spoiler alert-To give you an idea one scene involves a recent widow in an alley with Joe. After a few seconds she bends down to pick up her still burning cigrette complaining about the mess Joe's made of her as he zips up. They then return to Ela'a barge for tea.
That is typical of the lack of morality in the characters. You're disgusted by them at the same time you are fascinted by them.
So watch at your own risk, just don't expect a happy ending-unless you're Joe....more info
Young Adam Young Adam was a Great movie. This movie didn't only have a great cast, but it had a great storyline. This movie was about a young drifter, trying to make a better life for himself. Ewan McGregor plays the main character Joe. He plays the drifter. At the beginning of the movie he discovers a dead young woman floating in the water. His boss drags her out of the water. Joe decides he is going to have and affair with this bosses wife. Eventually the boss finds out about this. At the same time it is telling the story about his past relationship with another girl. This the type of story which eventually ties together. This movie is rated NC-17 due to explicit sex. This movie is not only about sex. The story is so much more than sex. I recommend this movie to adults. You cannot bring your children into see it. If you could, I recommend you not to bring them....more info
A compelling film I just saw "Young Adam" today. I was intrigued when I saw the trailer for the film when I saw "Dogville" a couple of weeks ago. It appealed to me because Ewan McGregor goes from a colorful, happy go lucky character in "Big Fish" to an amoral, cynical, lothario in "Young Adam". After seeing "Young Adam" today, I am curious to read the book that the movie is based on. For the most part I enjoyed the film. What bothered me wasn't the nudity but rather the way that the film was shot and edited. I wasn't positively sure what moment in time I was in but eventually I put two and two together. Tilda Swinton was wonderful as the wife of a barge operator named Les who was much older and impotent. I think Tilda is a vastly underused actress in Hollywood. Her performance in "Young Adam" was excellent. Emily Mortimer who played Joe's girlfriend was just as good.
The story begins with Joe and Les finding the body of a young woman in the river. From there, the moviegoer gets glimpses of the history between Joe and the dead woman. Joe is unable to get this woman out of his head. There was one moment in the film that made me cringe as well as confounded me because I could not figure out whether the act in itself was consensual or not. Through out the various flashbacks, the moviegoer also gets to find out who Joe is to a certain extent but in the long run he is a drifter with no regards to social morality.
"Young Adam" is a good movie but as I have stated before, I was bothered by the way the film was shot and edited. Plus I wasn't sure if there was an actual plot of the movie. Overall for all its flaws, "Young Adam" was an interesting film. Certainly a lot more interesting than what mainstream movie theaters shows....more info
L'ATALANTE, SCOTTISH STYLE Based on Alexander Trocchi's Young Adam, this movie was written and directed by Scottish director David Mackenzie in 2003. Since then, David Mackenzie also directed Asylum, the fascinating tale of a woman falling in love with a mad man.
Ewan McGregor is a drifter who uses to seduce every woman in sight. When his last girl-friend Emily Mortimer accidentally drowns in front of him, Ewan accepts to work on Peter Mullan's boat. Emily's corpse is found and an innocent married man is charged with the young girl's murder. Ewan seduces Tilda Swinton, his employers's wife, then even Tilda Swinton's sister while the accused is put on trial and sentenced to death.
YOUNG ADAM is a "cold" movie with its characters who are making love a lot but who don't love each other. The corpse of Emily Mortimer, after two days in water, is more vibrant in its frailty than the cold bodies of Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton, mechanically making love under the Scottish rain. YOUNG ADAM is a film a philosopher like Albert Camus could have written. It's a smart but desperate movie.
A DVD zone Ingmar Bergman is alive and well and living in Scotland.
A racy-but-dull variation on "Crime and Punishment" The lead character in "Young Adam" is a guy named Joe, and though the movie is set in 1950s Scotland, we all know a version of him: Joe's the guy who can't seem to get out of other women's beds.
Wounded, self-hating, Joe is smarter than his working class trappings but unable to rise above it - he aspires to be a writer but is shown throwing his typewriter into the ocean. His primary gift seems to be his allure to women: Two basically throw themselves at Joe, while two others are more than willing to be convinced. One banishes her husband for Joe's bedroom talents, while another dies because of it. In between these women Joe is ambivalent; it all feels pretty good at a crude level but it's also a tremendous hassle when these women begin to expect more.
Ewan McGregor plays Joe in a daparture from his usual, good-natured performances. Joe works on a coal barge with a couple, Ella and Les, (Tilda Swinton and Peter Cillian) when, one morning, he finds a dead woman in the water. Joe seems to know her, and Ella seems to know that Joe knows. "Young Adam" being the kind of movie where a great deal of work goes on without much being said, Joe and Ella blot out this development with a lot of sex in several different positions.
Writer/director David MacKenzie intercuts their affair with a earlier relationship in Joe's life with Cathie (Emily Mortimer) a demure, clever girl he meets on a beach, and long, lovely shots of the barge passing through canals of verdant Scotland. Joe and Ella's sex is desparate and lustful and not a bit discreet; it's inevitable that Les will bring this triangle to an end, though the results are not what you'd expect.
And then there is a suspect in the woman's death. Joe becomes interested in the trial. He is certain, and so are we, the defendant is innocent. And yet - Joe is not quite willing to present the truth. As intensely as he follows it, the possibility of an innocent man's death is not enough for him to act. Why? What broke in Joe that can't be fixed?
This variation on "Crime and Punishment" would be more effective if, frankly, the movie didn't take a sex break every ten minutes. What are their purpose, exactly? They're aren't erotic. Or emotionally charged. The central murder plot is not served by them. One is so bizarre, involving ketchup and other condiments, that it makes the butter scene from "Last Tango In Paris" look quaint. McGregor and Swinton, whom one would call brave if she hadn't already played a man in "Orlando" all those years ago, mostly project an angry desire to break up the dullness of barge work. "Young Adam" has the intercourse and post-coital brooding down pat. What's missing is the point.
Besides, other women in the film seem to betray the mores of the 1950s. After all how many housewives stand stark naked in the living room tub in front of an open window? I dunno. Maybe it was different in Scotland.
(3.5 STARS) "Going Nowhere...." Strong But Very Dismal Based on the book 'Young Adam' by the Scotland's beat generation writer Alexander Trocchi, 'Young Adam' features Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan, and Emily Mortimer. The impressive photography is provided by Giles Nuttgens ('The Beach') and the music by David Byrne.
Let me warn you first: The world of 'Young Adam' is very depressing. The film is about the characters living in Glasgow, Scotland, in the 50s. Joe (McGregor) is working as a handyman on the barge with middle-aged husband and wife, Les (Mullan) and Ella (Swinton), carrying coal on the canal. The life is monotonous, until they find a dead body of a girl on the river.
It does not take much time for us to discover that Joe and Ella will be having an affair on the boat. Actually, the film has little to say about what will happen in the 90 minutes except these characters, and one murder trial, of which verdict can be known by anyone from the beginning. And in the occasional flashback scenes, we are shown the life of Joe as an aspiring writer, living with a girl named Cathy (Mortimer).
[CHARACTER STUDY] The merit of 'Young Adam' is the descriptions of the characters, supported by unanimously good acting. Joe is a kind of man who is on the run from his past, and reaching for something that he knows he cannot get (like, going to China while he would not leave the city). Ella and Les are bored with the boat, bored with each other, and bored with the life itself. None of them are particularly likeable persons. The photography is beautiful, which makes the life of the people more dismal and hopeless. Even nudites (especially Tilda Swinton's) often make the whole scene repugnant.
However, the film itself is memorable, with its strong acting from the lead Ewan McGregor, who gives his best performance since 'Transpotting.' But even his avid fans might find the contents too dismal and relentless. Now, the film's life on the boat is the perfect antipodes of romantic drama, like the Jean Vigo classic. ...more info
SANITIZED FOR YOUR PROTECTION... I have literally looked everywhere to find the ORIGINAL uncut cinematic version of Trocchi's masterpiece, but apparently it is not fit for American eyes-- To all those at Amazon; let me know when the original British version is deemed "acceptable" enough to sell amidst all of the violent, meaningless drivel we are currently bombarded with. I will be more than eager to order THAT version... How demeaning......more info
Loses purpose to shock value I will admit that 'Young Adam' has two things going for it...an eerie mood that works wonders for the story, and flawless acting that elevates this movie past what it deserves. I just finished watching this movie, and while the story itself is decent, it's ruined by the lack of attention it receives. The story of a young man Joe (McGregor) who finds his dead lover face down in the water is intriguing in itself. The story forces the actions of Joe upon all those whom he meets and befriends, especially Les and Ella (Peter Mullan & Tilda Swinton), the couple whom he lives with, working on their barge in Scotland. The movie could have approached this film by picking apart the inner human in these central characters but instead it focus's on an elicit affair between Joe and Ella, showing the two having sex numorus times without any rhyme or reason. In fact, almost 80% of this film is sex related, yet it never really explains what triggered the affair, why Joe has sex with everyone he meets, why Ella prefers Joe to her husband...and most importantly it just skirts around the murder of Joe's ex-lover (Emily Mortimer) only really tackling it at the end of the film. It's not a terrible movie, I just feel they lost it's potential amidst all the shock-antics they obviously felt compelled to do. I normally don't object to sex and nudity, I actually welcome it...but when it takes away from the film it becomes cheap and that's just not entertaining....more info
"The dead can look after themselves." YOUNG ADAM is an appealing and engaging film filled with secrecy, intrigue and seduction. Joe (Ewan McGregor) works and resides on a river barge shoveling coal and loading heavy cargo outside Glasgow, Scotland. One day he finds the body of a young woman floating in the river and he along with his boss Less and wife Ella (Tilda Swinton) follow the police investigation of the mysterious woman via the newspaper headlines in the ensuing days and weeks. As the plot unfolds it is clear that Joe knows much more about the woman than he initially lets on.
Joe has an offhand and opaque personality; the audience never quite grasps what motivates him or what makes him tick. By the means of flashbacks it becomes apparent that Joe doesn't necessarily have much compassion for women, at least when it comes to affairs of the heart. After systematically seducing Ella he moves on the next woman without much thought to the ramifications. He doesn't have any desire to settle down with any of them regardless of the circumstances.
YOUNG ADAM focuses on the lives of the central characters rather than revolving exclusively around a murder mystery. The audience is treated to many convincing and intriguing glimpses into working-class Britain that has much disappeared today. There is a lack of action or sensationalism; rather, there are many scenes of the barge quietly motoring down the various river networks that comprise of this geographical location. These scenes successfully give this film a quiet yet intriguing tone.
This film received a NC-17 rating for several explicit sexual scenes and frontal nudity, but in all honesty it's really not that bad at all. I've seen films with much more graphic sexuality that received an R rating....more info
An Intriguing Film With Excellent Performances, But Not Too Involving How would she have done it, asks Les Gault after he and Joe Taylor fished a dead woman clothed only in a petticoat from the cold water next to the barge Joe works on. She'd take off her coat and her blouse and her dress, Joe says, "then shed her stockings and hold them out so that they blew in the breeze like pennants before she let them float off into the night. And she'd shiver and ask herself if she really wanted to go through with it. And she'd answer that question by kicking her clothes into the river. And hurriedly now she'd take off her garter and her knickers. And then she'd be standing in her petticoat thinking about whatever it was that brought her to this. And then with her petticoat billowing around her, she'd drop into the water like a rose and float there for a moment, and be gone." Joe (Ewan McGregor) works for Les (Peter Mullan) and his wife, Ella (Tilda Swinton) on the Gault's barge as it hauls everything from coal to container drums along the canals from Glasgow. The police at first think the girl, Cathy Dimly (Emily Mortimer) was a suicide, but then find she was pregnant and accuse a married man she knew of murder. Please note: Elements of the plot are discussed.
Joe's vision of Cathy's last moments is mesmerizing and dead wrong. She was undressed because, a few moments before, she and Joe were having sex on the dirt in a dockyard next to the river. She was pregnant, not by her married friend, but by Joe. She drowned because when Joe walked away from her she ran after him, lost her balance and fell in the river. Joe called her name a few times, but then threw her clothes into the river after her and hurried away.
Joe Taylor is a drifter. He wants to be a writer but doesn't work at it. He thinks as much with what's between his legs as with what's between his ears. He's passive in many ways, except when it comes to women. He was having sex with Cathy soon after they met. He began having sex with Ella, the tired, frustrated wife of Les and who turns out to own the barge, one evening when Joe went into town to play darts. "Are you sorry?" Joe asks her afterwards. "Fat lot of good that would do," Ella says as she walks back to the barge. Joe has sex with Ella's sister-in-law while still supposedly committed to Ella and shortly after the sister-in-law becomes a widow. He has sex with the married landlady where he stays after leaving the barge. The sex is passionate but joyless, against an alley wall, along the side of a canal, in the small bed of the barge where Ella's young son peeps through a crack in the wall. Joe can have what he wants, and he does, but with little personal involvement.
Joe knows the man on trial is innocent. At the last moment he writes an anonymous letter telling what actually happened. The man is found guilty anyway and condemned to hang. Joe finally just walks away.
Is that all there is? Yes and no. I found the movie frustrating because there was little emotional payoff for the viewer. Joe is not an especially bad guy, but he has no particular redeeming qualities. Sex comes easily for him, but doing something -- anything -- seems beyond his limit of selfishness. It makes for a movie that, I think, is intriguing to watch but not very involving.
On the other side of that argument are two strong elements. First, the look and style of the movie is first-rate. Everything about the movie is cold, overcast or raining and coal-begrimed. The love-making, with both female and male frontal nudity, is quick and efficient. There's no sentimentality here. Everyone smokes and you can sense the reek of stale cigarette breath. So much of the action takes place on the claustrophobic barge that it's not long before you want to take a deep breath of fresh air. Second, add to that some wonderful performances, especially by Tilda Swinton and Peter Mullan. If you want a glimpse of Swinton's enormous talent, look at her in two wildly different movies, Love Is the Devil and The Deep End, and then compare here. She's amazing. Ewan McGregor, too, does a fine job as the selfish, passive Joe. Young Adam may be a flawed movie, but it moves along at it's own pace. I found it interesting and worth viewing.
The DVD picture is excellent. There are a couple of commentary tracks and other extras which I did not check out....more info
Mindblowingly Disgusting It really was an extreme disappointment for me to see the wonderfully talented and seemingly classy Ewan McGregor in a film that I was not even able to finish watching. The sex scenes were atrocious and numerous and the plot kept getting lost between them. I felt that in order to feel sorry for Joe, I would have to see more of his character than his penis. The depth of the human psyche is more than just physicality. If Joe's outlet and comfort was sex, so be it. I didn't have to see how many times he needed sex and how it was orchestrated (which was unnerving at times, and after a particulary gross culinary incident involving custard, ketchup and sugar or flour, I hit stop and rewind, scarred forever). Truly, I admire Ewan McGregor and his great talent which was given to him by God. I do not admire his strange choice of film concerning "Young Adam". I feel the piece was below him and the next time I see him in a film I hope he is wearing all of his clothing. This film was a great disappointment--that is, if you're not a pervert....more info
Great performances First I want to say up front:
A lot of people are complaining about this being an edited, R-rated version instead of the original NC-17. But honestly I think these people are overreacting - as far as I know the only difference between this and the NC-17 version is a slightly extended sex scene that is INCLUDED AS A DELETED SCENE on the DVD. The exclusion of the scene doesn't hurt the story, and it's still there for you to see. If you're thinking of not getting the DVD simply because of this cut scene, I encourage you to reconsider.
As to what I think of the movie - my main reason for watching this movie in the first place is because I am a fan of Ewan McGregor's. And I'm not sure how I really feel about it overall. I do know that I think the sex scenes get repetitive - it almost seems they do so many of them because they want to prove to themselves or somebody else how daring they can be. And I also think the score is hit-and-miss - it is very lovely in some places but somewhat tiring at times. And, while I respect and usually appreciate movies that are subtle and not heavy-handed, I sometimes think this movie is a little too subtle for it's own good. It's point is not immediately apparent, though I'm sure some people like that about it.
On the good side, as everyone says, all of the performances are excellent. Despite the negative points of the movie, I find it a very compelling watch just for this reason. Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan, Emily Mortimer, and even some of the smaller parts: they're all riveting, and, for me, easily make this movie worth watching....more info
Yummers One of the hottest movies ever of Ewan McGregor. It's one of those slow English things but you get to see 'all' of Ewan, so well worth the slow times. Gotta love the tag, tartan noir!!...more info
More Black Scottish Humor Ewan McGregor stars as "Joe Taylor"in "Young Adam," about a young Scottish drifter with literary pretensions working a coal barge that travels Glasgow to Edinburgh. The movie opens on his finding, and fishing out, the semi-nude corpse of a pretty girl from the black and frightening Clyde River (at the bottom of which we see the typewriter he dumped a while before). Taylor claims to know nothing about this corpse, but by the time the movie, directed by David Mackenzie, and its numerous flashbacks are done, we'll know that he actually knew her quite well: in fact, she was pregnant by him.
You wouldn't expect life on a coal barge to be clean, nor is it, and the makeup artists have done quite a job with the ordinarily handsome McEwan. He's pasty, as befits a resident Scot, drinking and smoking heavily, eating that unhealthy Scots diet, never seeing the sun. And there's ground-in coal dust on his face and in his clothes. The striking Tilda Swinton costars as Ella Gault, married to Les: they operate the barge together though we later discover she owns it. Poor Tilda, dead pale, hair lank and filthy, limited, dirty wardrobe: monosyllabic dialogue: in a career of choosing unexpected parts, this might be the least glamorous role she's ever played.
Anyway, for a married father,and a major male movie star, McGregor is also known for his daring choice of parts, indie and mainstream. He's played gay, and gay love scenes, and doesn't shrink from full frontal nudity. We've got some of that in "Young Adam,"as well, in the frequent, rather graphic sex scenes. His character Joe Taylor seems to fancy every woman he sees, and they all seem to fancy him right back. Mc Gregor is Scots, born in Crieff, educated at Kirkcaddy College, first came to notice in Danny Boyle's 1994 black comedy "Shallow Grave," and to stardom in Boyle's even blacker 1996 comedy "Trainspotting." Mc Gregor has starred in "Guys and Dolls" on the London stage, made "Moulin Rouge" and "Down With Love" in Hollywood, and "Little Voice" in England.
Swinton, best known for "The White Witch" in "The Chronicles of Narnia,"singes the screen with McGregor in their sex scenes, and for a woman with hardly any dialogue, she manages to express quite a lot. She was born in London of an Australian mother and a Scottish father, who was a Major General in the Scots Guard. It's said that the Swintons are the oldest family in Scotland and England: the male line has proven descent back to Saxon times. She currently lives in Nairn, Scotland.
The movie doesn't ever get off its Glasgow to Edinburgh axis, and not a whole lot happens. To be sure, Taylor gets quite a bit of female attention, and proves to be not a particularly likeable man. Ella demonstrates that she knows her way around a boat. There are some fairly taut courtroom scenes. But if you're a movie-movie person, the mise en scene is great, and the acting is at the highest level....more info
Young Adam proves to be an interesting film! Young Adam is based on the novel by Alexander Trocchi, and stars Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton. Ewan plays a young man who has gone from university and a life of privilige to being a worker on a river barge that delivers coal. He works for a married couple who along with their son make up the crew. At the start they find the body of a girl in the river.
Ewan's character has a past with the corpse, and through flashbacks scattered throughout the film we see what has happened to make him what he is now - a lothario and someone who seems to be numb. I thought from descriptions that the movie might be a sexually charged mystery, but it plays more like a mournful descent into loneliness.
Much has been made of the NC-17 rating. Honestly Ewan has shown more of himself in VELVET GOLDMINE and THE PILLOW BOOK. He has a few scenes with Tilda Swinton that are sort of graphic, and the flashbacks are pretty out there ... but both Ewan and Tilda look like barge workers, and the sex is mechanical for the most part. So don't expect something sexy as in BASIC INSTINCT or 9 1/2 WEEKS! There are definitely R-rated movies out there that show much more, and do it much less subtly. Some of the scenes are even fully clothed in YOUNG ADAM! I think the main problem with kids would be them sitting through two hours of a movie that does not rely on dialogue very heavily. Entire scenes are done with looks.
Much has been made about Ewan's character being a sociopath. Surely he is unlikeable, and seems to not do right things ... but it feels more like inertia and grief than a real desire to do harm to others. He even saves a life at one point! Hardly the work of someone basically bad.
A good movie if you are feeling introspective and want well photographed art film with good acting. But surely not action packed or even sexually charged as the rating or other reviews may lead you to believe. This is a quiet film of desperation....more info
It's R-Rated! Listen to the previous reviewers, at first when this title was available for pre-order, I was beside myself with excitment and immediately placed my order without batting an eyelid. However, upon closer inspection, it's rated R! Not the uncut NC-17 version. I cancelled my order immediately!
Save your money here and head on down to Amazon UK to get the original uncut edition, even though it's more expensive. Around 14 pounds....more info
Dark and classically Scottish Set in post WWII Scotland, Young Adam is a tale of deception and murder that creeps along like a steady rolling fog.
Ewan McGregor is Joe, an emotionally absent young drifter who finds work on a barge owned by Les (Peter Mullan) and his reticent wife Ella (Tilda Swinton).
When Joe and Les pull the corpse of a young woman out of a canal, it seems initially a random event for the barge workers. Police begin searching for the woman's killer while Joe finds himself drifting toward Ella. The tension between the two heats up and when a lust fuelled affair begins it becomes apparent Joe is hiding some dark secrets from his past.
Although not quite a thriller, Young Adam has all the ingredients of a dark and moody drama. Scotland's steamy canals are the perfect desolate backdrop for what is basically a story about morals - those of both the community and the individual.
It`s clear director David McKenzie made some inspired casting decisions when choosing his lead performers in this film, as they become the back bone of this emotional tale.
Perhaps it`s McGregor's Scottish heritage that takes some of the credit for his complete embodiment of Joe; brooding, opportunistic and confident, he attracts women like the proverbial moth to the flame. McGregor's subtly in playing Joe, makes it impossible to find the seam between actor and character.
Swinton dons the dowdy garb of a third generation barge owner and disappears into the strong yet vulnerable Ella. The role is a far cry from her characters in films such as Orlando and The Beach, but it seems clear by her portrayal of Ella that she revels in a challenge.
Containing all the right elements Young Adam is a first rate film, however this does not mean it is comfortable to watch. Not that it should be. It's a story which explores some perilous notions most of us would choose to shy away from.
Young Adam is a difficult journey but one not without its rewards....more info
Full Review! Movie: Young Adam
Rating: [Edited Version] Rated R for strong sexual content, some disturbing behavior and language. [Uncut version] Rated NC-17 for some explicit sexual content.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Tilda Winton, Emily Mortimer, Peter Mullen.
Summary: Based on the book by Alexander Trocchi, the story takes place somewhere in the 1950's and tells the story of Joe (McGregor) who doesn't have a plan of where he's going in his life and is a drifter currently working as a second-hand man with barge owners Leslie (Mullen) and his given-up-on-life wife, Ella (Tilda).
One day while at a stop on the barge, Joe happens to have discovered a woman's lifeless corpse wearing only a thin petticoat floating in the river. Both he and Leslie decide to fish it out and lay it down on the barge. Leslie goes to get a blanket to cover the body, and we soon see a questionable shot where Joe places his hand on the woman's bare skin and his expression is not easy to say, but the viewers watching will know Joe knows more about this woman's body than he reveals.
As questions are asked and the investigation for a suspect begins, Joe suddenly for some reason looks at Leslie's wife Ella in a whole different way. It is not fully explained but Joe unexpectedly starts a full-blown affair with Ella right under Leslie's nose.
As the present story continues, we are eventually taken back into Joe's past, the first scene of him meeting Cathy, of who was also that dead woman's corpse. Again, Joe begins an odd affair with her that's both disturbing and unpredictable. As we all know, this woman Cathy eventually dies and arouses the question: Was it suicide? Murder? An accident? Only Joe knows what happened the night of her death.
Opinions: In simpler words, you'll either love or hate this movie. Half of the critics I see love this movie and the story of one man and others feel it's pointless and the many sex scenes of the movie weren't needed. In my opinion, I loved this movie!
I have been interested in psychology and the study of human behavior for over a year now and this movie is so compelling and so confusing, but if you're a person who will take time to try to understand Joe's character more, the more you'll like the movie.
Just about every scene of this movie is questionable, and Joe is very unpredictable, which is what makes this movie so intriguing. The movie never tells you what Joe is thinking, only on the outside which makes him so interesting.
This movie isn't a who-did-it mystery concerning Cathy's death. The sum of the story focuses on Joe: his view on life, his usual questionable actions, and how he uses sex as a weapon while running from himself. After watching this movie, you may actually feel bad for Joe, even though the whole movie shows many shocking things he had done in the past. One scene involves an intense sexual assault involving Joe with catsup bottles and a bag of sugar. As David Mackenzie says, "Joe is a man on the run, from himself and from his conscience. He is rebellious, irresponsible and dangerous...He is a character who is about as far from innocent as you can get, but he is also not guilty."
One thing to also mention concerning the sex scenes. The sex in this movie that makes it stand out from other movies is that the characters seem to have no intimacy and it's often very cold sex, as I said before, a way of Joe to run from himself and make him feel better, although it never works. This sort of works for Swinton's character, Ella. She's a woman who has given up on life and happiness, which was why she fell for Joe so easily.
So to sum it all up, this movie is not a happy one and very dark. The sex is even not enjoyable, but that's not to say the movie's not enjoyable. This movie is not meant to be enjoyable and the ending will leave people in thoughts. I can't exactly say what makes this movie so intriguing but the whole aspect of Joe's human flaw and ambiguity will make many feel interested in wanting to know this man better and we may sometimes think, "We could've been in the same situation, and wouldn't we have done the same as him?"
Total: 9.7 out of 10 (This is a movie you'll either love-it or hate-it, but I for one, I loved it!)
Young Adam!! This was a great movie! I love Ewan mcgregor and this was one of his best performances. It may get a little sexual but I still loved it!...more info
Grim and Joyless (And Who is Young Adam?) What a dry, dour, charmless film is "Young Adam." The story is bleak, the characters, almost all of them despicable are impossible to route for. Tilda Swinton, an actress I normally find attractive, is here, as Ella, a ghastly, tough, worn out creature and a bit of a shrew. Joe, as portrayed by Ewan McGregor (one of my favorite actors) gives his all as a too young to be this world weary, callow man who, having given up his dreams and fantasies of a better life, aimlessly goes through life, with no honor or self respect. For a bit of adventure he bangs nearly every woman in sight. In fact, a betting game can be played whenever a new female character is introduced as to how many minutes before we're having to see their contorted naked bodies going at it
Bargemates Joe and Les's (an excellent performance by multi talented actor/writer/director Peter Mullan, who's "Orphans" is one of the best things from Scotland in ages) discovery of a dead girl at the film's start, unravels the story in achingly slow fashion and paints an increasingly disturbing picture of Joe. One always wants to route for a film's hero but "Young Adam" doesn't have one. The lead character has nothing redeemable about him and it's depressing to watch a film where not a single shred of hope or decency can break through the grim, gray bleakness. If you like this sort of thing, you'll love "Young Adam" - as for me, I hated it - something I rarely say about any film. Even the beauty of the way the film was shot (it is visually brilliant) couldn't save this for me. Blech. ...more info
Allowing the Camera to Relate the Story The haunting beauty of Alexander Trocchi's book YOUNG ADAM was in the descriptive language, a gift of creating the atmospheric visual from the use of carefully chosen words. In collaborating with Trocchi by making the book visual, writer/director David Mackenzie has succeeded in capturing the atmosphere of working class Scotland circa 1950 with all the dank and dark meanderings of a river barge outside of Glasgow on the river Clyde, the scene of all the action in this unique mystery of death and passion and lust. And for the most part Mackenzie relies on the camera to absorb and illuminate the characters and the nearly unbearable story that lurks beneath the murky water's surface. And God created Adam: man, young Adam learning of physical desires that he hopes will inform his chosen career of writing 'different' books. Joe is this young Adam, a man from middle to upper class Glasgow who has been to university to learn his craft then sets out to experience the world. We first meet him (as played with incredible subtlety and animal magnetism by Ewan McGregor) observing the floating body of a young woman, face down in the river. His co-worker Les (Peter Mullan) helps Joe fish her out of the river and call the ambulance. Switch to a smarmy working barge owned by Ella (the amazingly gifted Tilda Swinton who is not afraid to tackle ANY role and make it credible), who happens to married to Les, and is the dingy home of Joe as he descends into the poor working class of Scotland. Through no dialogue and only eye communication between them, Joe seduces Ella in the beginning of a never-ending series of spontaneous sexual encounters with nearly every woman who enters the picture. In a series of flashbacks we gradually learn that the woman fished from the river was Cathie (Emily Mortimer), a sexual liaison of Joe's and Joe is troubled by the memory of her accidental drowning, though he speaks of it to no one. Joe's and Ella's affair is discovered by Les, and Les leaves the barge home he has known, allowing Ella and Joe to continue their lusty affair unafraid. But things happen, the death of Cathie is investigated by the police and a trial is held, condemning another man to hanging for the 'murder' of Cathie. The tragedy is the emotional distance with which Joe isolates himself from not only fact of deed, but from any sense of personal involvement with the multiple sexual partners he has.
The story may be cold and depressing, but the character of Joe is a careful examination of one man's survival in a world he seeks to understand. There is a metaphor or two here about where we have come as sexual beings and as citizens of a non-compassionate world. The film can be appreciated on many levels. Yes, there is depiction of Joe's type of instant gratification sex: it is darkly graphic, and there is full frontal nudity of (yes, believe it or not!) BOTH Joe and his consorts - something unusual for American audiences. But the dark coarseness of the lust only underlines the overall story, a story that is so well developed with minimal dialogue that it is completely absorbing. None of this could have been possible without the stunning performances by Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton, two actors who understand the power of understatement. Perhaps not a film for everyone, but for those who are hungry for dark stories and richly detailed canvases on film, this film is highly recommended. Of note, an 'added feature' on the DVD shows how the film was originally intended to have voice-over by McGregor, who reveals some of the beauty of Trocchi's original writing. It makes one wish for more.......more info
Young Adam is a deeply disturbing and depressing film that is not for everyone, What an emotionless portrayal of an emotionless man. Ewan yet again proves that he is a force in both the Hollywood community and in the independent forum. Not only for having the bravery to go against American clich¨¦ and fight to keep his full frontal nudity in the film, but also for having the gumption to take this role. To me there's nothing "young" about this character, he was a mature man that desperately needed to find himself and clear his conscience. This movie should of been called "Lost Adam" or Guilty conscience Adam." The cover of this DVD doesn't serve him any justice.
Joe is not your normal 'hero' or character. In fact, I would go as far as to say he represents some of us. He is, sadly, our 'hero'. Joe (and Ewan portrays this perfectly) is constantly looking for happiness and acceptance, but somehow cannot find it due to the sexual urges that he has. It is interesting to see him want to have emotion, but yet have no issues with sleeping with another man's wife. This is a story of maturity for Joe, but sadly we do not ever see it. When I was watching this film I was continually thinking of the film Alfie (not the new release, but the older) in which a man embarks on several relationships and ultimately ends up with nothing. That is very similar to the story that we have here, only Young Adam is much grittier and darker ... and, well, more explicit.
The plot, what little of it there is, unfolds through character and behavior, with a minimum of dialog. There is much complete silence in this film. There is a quiet suspense, never quite gratified, which begins with the very first frame, a corpse, gently floating, photographed darkly, from below, so dark there is no face. A deceased, faceless female human being. Joe's is the first face we see. That first glimpse of his eyes, told me that nothing would be what it seemed in this film. Joe sees something we do not see. So begins the mystery.
Nothing is jarring, nothing is false. Life is simply never quite what we think it is. Make no mistake. There is a real mystery here to be revealed. Not a contrived, plot dependent series of revelations. It is the unpeeling of the layers of a human being. I haven't told you much about the plot. That is deliberate. The plot works. It reveals the character. The progression of events is true, often surprising, but never false, never contrived.
If you love great acting, by all involved, and appreciate the crafts and arts of film construction, I recommend "Young Adam".
Almost gave it 5 stars. Very good movie. This movie makes you realize how wasted Ewan McGregor is in the Star Wars movies. This guy can act! And anyone who watched "The Deep End" or "Adaptation" already knows what an amazing actress Tilda Swinton is. Her performance in "Young Adam" is her best yet.....truly powerful in it's understatement. She makes being a frumpy Scottish working class mother seem pretty darn sexy! I had not seen Emily Mortimer before, and I was very impressed with her as well.
There is a lot of sex in Young Adam. I suppose my only gripe about the film is that most of the sex is rather manic. Why is movie sex always so frantic and noisy? I suppose directors don't think audiences want to see real sex. Or they don't think it will make a good movie.
Anyway, I'm not complaining too much. The sex scenes in Young Adam are still a lot better than we get in American films. There is one particularly fun scene that will remind you of "9 1/2 weeks".
But really, this film is a powerful meditation on the nature of love and rejection.......life-changing decisions and regret..............the things we make happen versus the things that just happen to us.
The cinematography is fantastic. David Byrne did the score and I didn't even notice it, which is the way it should be.
This one's a keeper....more info
Meandering down a canal with no aim Four of my favorite actors in one rotten and pointless film.The characters are not formed at all.They are shells.If that is appealing to you watch it.Loads of sex that seems to have no reason except selfishness and boredom.The soundtrack,if that is what it can be called,continually forms around five chords which ultimately lead to the final credits song that has more words than the entire film.A major waste of time.There is not tone thing positive I can say about this film.Even with it's R rating with deleted scenes, this film starts in the same place it begins-NOWHERE....more info
Sexual, erotic thriller--great combo of McGregor and Swinton.. Scotland, 1950s. Joe (McGregor) lives on a barge and engages in cold sexual encounters that only add to his sense of existential alienation. Then the body of a woman is found in the canal... The graphic content and frigid, sterile atmosphere pay homage to Trocchi's novel, and the excellent cast do justice to a minimalist script.
Steamy premise, but there's not much more... It's the kind of opening you want in an eerie, NC-17-rated mystery-thriller: a scantily clad dead female body washing up to the surface of of bleak Scottish strait, barge workers fishing it out. In fact, Young Adam, the latest proof that McGregor is outstanding in anything he does, hits all the right notes so early that its descent into narrative nothingness soon after is enough to piss you off. You see, McGregor's Jim dated the dead woman earlier (no one knows that but him, of course) and he also has an eye on the owner of the barge, played by Tilda Swinton. Problem: Swinton's character is married, but who's that stopping since the movie is NC-17? So begins a steady torrent of naughty little sex scenes that seem to be the point of the movie after a while.
And even though the movie flashes back to Jim's past, filling in the missing pieces of the girl's death, and despite gorgeously bleak cinematography, there's pretty much nothing in Young Adam besides the touted trysts. Characters move in and out of the movie, there's little rise and fall to it all, and after 6 or 7 sexual encounters I wanted my cigarette already and hoped the movie would go on to bigger and better things. For such a great cast, this kind of vapid, pithy material is borderline insulting - Swinton's conflicted wife could have been given more depth, the cuckold husband implausibly picks up and leaves when he discovers the affair, and not until the end of the movie does McGregor's Jim make the journey slightly worthwhile. And that brings me to the end - for all my griping and quips about Adam, the film's cunning insistence on emotional distance from Jim (no narration, thank God!) and an inspired twist of depravity bump a film up a notch or two that just sat stagnant for so long. But it's too long. Young Adam has enough of a steamy premise to keep you marginally interested for a while, but as sleazy tales of infidelity and foul play go, I've had better. GRADE: C+...more info
Intriguing but Slow Rural Film Noir/Character Study. David Mackenzie wrote and directed "Young Adam" based on the novel by Alexander Trocchi. In 1950s Scotland, a young man named Joe (Ewan McGregor) works on a barge that travels the River Clyde, in the employ of lifelong bargers Ella and Les Gault (Tilda Swinton & Peter Mullan). One day the two men find a woman's body floating in the river. They keep apprised of the investigation into the woman's death through the newspapers, as the relationships between Joe, Ella, and Les change within the confines of the barge.
"Young Adam" is a kind of plodding film noir. There are mystery, twists of fate that bring sudden change, a pervasive sense of injustice, and a cast of simple but well-drawn characters, none of whom are blameless or admirable, but who all have sympathetic moments. We see the story from Joe's perspective, and that makes an interesting character study. But "Young Adam" has -I suppose deliberately- the pace of the slow, monotonous barge life that it depicts. A significant portion of the story is in flashbacks, which are surreptitiously slipped into the present narrative, so it's often not immediately apparent that they are flashbacks. Conversation is sparse and sometimes disjointed. The film is very heavy on atmosphere in places, to the point that it detracts from the relationships. But the cast is excellent.
Tilda Swinton can be very refined, but here she is plain, rough and barely working class. Ella is probably the film's most interesting character: a woman who never expected much out of life, but jumps at an opportunity for a little change, not caring much what it is. Ewan McGregor does a fine job of keeping the audience unsure of Joe's moral character. Peter Mullan is perfection in his supporting role as a simple, not particularly bad man who is not a particularly good husband either. It's interesting to watch relationships within a closed space. And I like the idea of a noir set as far away from urban culture and sophistication as you can get. "Young Adam" is intriguing, but it takes patience. 3 1/2 stars.
The DVD (Columbia/Tristar 2004): Bonus features include 2 audio commentaries, one extended scene, and some voice-over narration. The first audio commentary by "Cast and Crew" features director David Mackenzie, editor Colin Monie, production designer Laurence Dorman, and actress Tilda Swinton. They talk to each other about their roles and unique challenges in working on the film, including adapting the story from the novel and the treatment of the flashback sequences. The second audio commentary is by director David Mackenzie alone, in which he talks about the decisions he made and challenges posed by the locations and circumstances. This commentary focuses on the filming itself. The "Extended Scene" is a very slightly extended version of a scene between Ella and Joe. "Ewan McGregor Original Passage Narration" is three short segments of voiceover narration that McGregor recorded for the film, but which did not make the final cut. The narration really is superfluous, so no loss there. Subtitles and dubbing for the film are available in French....more info
Adam and Eve ... without the Tree! What an emotionless portrayal of an emotionless man. Ewan yet again proves that he is a force in both the Hollywood community and in the independent forum. Not only for having the bravery to go against American clich¨¦ and fight to keep his full frontal nudity in the film, but also for having the gumption to take this role. This is not your average character. Joe is not your normal "hero". In fact, I would go so far as to say that he represents all of us. He is, sadly, our "hero". Joe (and Ewan portrays this perfectly) is constantly looking for happiness and acceptance, but somehow cannot find it due to the sexual urges that he has. It is interesting to see him want to have emotion, but yet have no issues with sleeping with another man's wife. This is a story of maturity for Joe, but sadly we do not ever see it. When I was watching this film I was continually thinking of the film Alfie (not the new release, but the older) in which a man embarks on several relationships and ultimately ends up with nothing. That is very similar to the story that we have here, only Young Adam is much grittier and darker ... and, well, more explicit.
So many times in cinema we watch two actors give heartbreaking performances on screen, but just do not have the chemistry needed to really pull together those intense sex scenes. That is not the case here. The chemistry and raw emotion between Ewan and Tilda Swinton is phenomenal. I have not seen a better match up in cinema in a long time. This successfully added that extra intensity to their moments of glory. I was able to feel and see their emotion and passion for each other on the screen. It was exactly what this film needed to reach the next level.
I know this story is based off a book, but I felt that director David Mackenzie did a fantastic job of setting the mood and the scenes. He amazingly built this sense of claustrophobia that surrounded Joe from not only inside the boat, but also under the truck and in the second apartment. There was even that feeling at the trial. This claustrophobia is one of the reasons why Joe never stays in one place for very long. While some will argue that he is nothing more than a heartless womanizer and a coward, I saw him as a tragic spirit searching for the lifelong happiness that he could never find. His conscious was too heavy on him to ever find that perfect place. Mackenzie allowed Ewan to find this character, and this powerful drama was transformed well into the screen.
Finally, I would like to add that Ewan would not have been worth seeing in this film if it wasn't for the impressive Tilda Swinton who is seemingly in everything lately and gives nothing less than 110%. I have not seen anything that she has been in that was anything below good. She is our next Oscar winner and one of those actresses that are not afraid to get dirty. Her portrayal of Ella is no different. While others would have simply just played the part, Swinton creates the part and gives this film the backbone that it deserves. She nearly steals every scene from Ewan, and that is impressive.
Overall, Young Adam is a deeply disturbing and depressing film that is not for everyone, but will be enjoyed by those that are fans of this genre.
Sad, sexual film that wanders around with no plot To many it may seem akin to blasphemy to refer to any film with Tilda Swinton, Peter Mulan and Ewan McGregor as bad, but unfortunately, that's just what "Young Adam" is. Oh, it's full of mood and the acting is quite good, but that isn't enough to save this film from itself.
Joe (Ewan McGregor) and Les (Peter Mulan) and Tilda Swinton all work a barge that Swinton owns. Les is married to her and they share a son. No one in this film is named Adam!
Now, Joe and Les drag up the dead body of a young woman from the river. She is quite dead. Ostensibly this is the driving force behind the film. It isn't.
What drives this film is Joe's insatiable sexual appetite. In fact, Joe merely wanders through the film without any conscience sleeping with women - married or otherwise. He's such a perv that he even sniffs one woman's bed sheets where her crotch would have been.
Behind the scenes, he keeps up with the status of the investigation and subsequent trial of the person accused of murdering the young woman he and Les pulled out of the drink.
There is no resolution in this film. There is no real plot - we don't learn anything new or discover some stunning revelation as a result of the finish of the film.
It is more a character study never finished.
Tilda Swinton is a fine actress, but even when glammed up she is very hard on the eyes. Here she wears no makeup and quite often no clothes.
McGregor is doing his typical performance which is better than many actors, but not as good as could be. He seems to relish the opportunity to expose his privates on screen and in this film we see a bit more than we bargained for in the sex scenes - they are almost pornographic.
At one point Swinton's son peeks through cracks in the wall to see his mother and her lover having sex. Nothing comes of this. Why did we need to see this? Shouldn't it have some bearing on the film as a whole? Nope. It's just there for effect.
And that is really what this whole film is: effect. There's no plot, just a bunch of events that are held together by sex scenes.
When all is said and done this film is just very very boring....more info