Review: ‘Wolf’ (2021), starring George MacKay, Lily-Rose Depp, Eileen Walsh and Paddy Considine

December 12, 2021

by Carla Hay

George MacKay in “Wolf” (Photo courtesy of Focus Features)

“Wolf” (2021)

Directed by Nathalie Biancheri

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed part of England, the psychological drama “Wolf” features a nearly all-white cast of characters (with one biracial/black person) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A young man who thinks he’s a wolf is sent to a psychiatric institution for other young people who think that they are wild animals. 

Culture Audience: “Wolf” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in strange and badly bungled movies about people who have mental health issues.

Lily-Rose Depp in “Wolf” (Photo courtesy of Focus Features)

If you want to see an aimless movie where people who think they are wild animals are physically and emotionally abused in a psychiatric institution, then “Wolf” is the movie for you. These scenarios are repeated to the point of extreme irritation, with no character development and no insight into these patients’ personalities and how long they’ve thought of themselves as these wild creatures. In fact, after seeing “Wolf,” viewers will learn almost nothing about the patients in the movie, except how they react to torture methods that are inflicted upon them under the guise of “aversion therapy.” The instutition employees who cause this abuse are equally hollow.

Written and directed by Nathalie Biancheri, “Wolf” is a 99-minute movie that might have been better off as a short film. That’s because the movie’s skimpy plot is just enough for a short film, but most definitely not enough for a feature-length film. Unfortunately, the movie’s misleading trailer makes “Wolf” look like it’s going to be a suspenseful horror film. The only horror that viewers might experience is the horror of knowing that they’re wasting time watching a boring movie that’s trying very hard to be artsy, but it’s really just monotonous and unimaginative.

“Wolf” is the type of movie that is such a turnoff, some viewers probably won’t finish watching it until the very end. Those who watch the entire movie will find out from the underwhelming conclusion that “Wolf” was a confused and badly mishandled concept from the beginning. Although the cast members seem to be giving it their all in their performances, they don’t have much to work with when they have two-dimensional characters to portray.

Let’s start with one of the movie’s biggest flaws: It’s a shoddy portrayal of species dysphoria, the real-life psychiatric disorder where people think they are not human beings but actually belong to another species. The big romance in the film is between two patients who are supposed to have species dysphoria, but they act mostly like humans in a love affair, not the wild creatures that they’re supposed to think they are. This dismissal of their wild creature personas completely ruins the movie’s concept that these two people are supposed to truly believe that they’re wild creatures. There’s no consistency to this movie’s premise, which was flimsy from the start.

The protagonist of “Wolf” is a young man in his late 20s named Jacob (played by George MacKay), who thinks he’s a wolf. In the beginning of the movie, Jacob’s parents drop him off at the unnamed institution with sadness and desperate optimism that Jacob will be “cured” of his delusion that he’s a wolf who’s meant to roam free in a forest. Get used to seeing a shirtless Jacob in several dream-like forest scenes, where he crawls on all fours, sniffs objects around him, and howls with his face thrust up in the air.

The institution appears to be somewhere in the United Kingdom, since most of the patients have British accents, but a few of the patients and employees have American accents. Do not expect to learn anything about Jacob during this movie except that he thinks he’s a wolf. But he somehow forgets he’s a wolf when he sees a pretty young woman in her 20s crawling around outside in the garden area of the institution. Jacob looks at her like a man who is sexually attracted to a woman. Jacob soon finds out that this patient’s name is an American named Cecile (played by Lily-Rose Depp), and she thinks she’s a wildcat.

Since when are wolves sexually attracted to wildcats? And aren’t canines and felines supposed to be natural enemies, especially the wild ones in each species? That tells you all you need to know about how dumb this movie is because it keeps contradicting itself with how “delusional” these characters are supposed to be with their species dysphoria. When Jacob and Cecile begin their inevitable “courtship” (which isn’t spoiler information, because it’s in the movie’s trailer), they talk and act like humans whenever it suits them.

The movie wants to push this idea that Jacob and Cecile are having a “forbidden” odd-couple interspecies romance, but it’s hard to take that idea seriously when Cecile uses her very human hands to pleasure Jacob’s very human private parts while he’s locked up in a cage. Viewers are supposed to believe that wildcats’ natural sexual activities and instincts now magically include “hand jobs”—or is it “paw jobs”? Who knew that a wildcat’s paws can just automatically do the same things that fingers on a human hand can do? Don’t tell that the filmmakers of “Wolf” though, because they want the species dysphoria in this movie to just be just something that characters can put on and take off as easily as a pair of underwear.

Why is Jacob locked up in a cage? It’s his punishment for refusing to admit to the institution officials that he’s a human being, not a wolf. Apparently, this psychiatric institution thinks that the best way to get people to not feel like animals is to put them in an animal cage and treat them like a wild animal. Is it any wonder that their “therapy methods” are failing? It’s just more of this movie’s stupidity on display.

“Wolf” has mind-numbing repetition of Jacob and other institution patients being yelled at, physically abused, and threatened by the institution officials to start acting like humans, or else they’ll get more abuse. The institution also resembles a prison in how there are high fences around the property, and the patients are under supervised lockdown at night. Because “Wolf” is a low-budget film that mainly takes place in or near one building, there’s a relatively small number of people in the cast.

As such, there are really only a few people who are shown to be in charge of the abuse in this hell hole that’s passing itself off as a psychiatric care facility. The most sadistic employee is only identified as the Zookeeper (played by Paddy Considine), a snarling supervisor who sometimes imitates a wild animal too, in order to scare the patients. Considine’s performance is very over-the-top, almost to the point of being unintentionally campy.

If patients really get out of line, they’re sent to the office of the institution’s general manager, Dr. Sullivan, who’s briefly shown in the movie. Dr. Sullivan gives this stern warning to one of the patients who ends up in his office: “You won’t get anywhere by fighting us!” Dr. Sullivan is barely in the movie, so there’s no sense of how long he’s been in charge and which other bureacrats from the institution are making the decisions in how this barbaric place operates.

There’s an unnamed American female staffer (played by Eileen Walsh), who is not as cruel as the Zookeeper, but she’s still abusive and controlling. During the course of the movie, it’s revealed that this female staffer has been some kind of guardian to Cecile, whose parents are either dead or they want nothing to do with her. Cecile’s role in the institution is made even more unclear when she is shown doing employee duties such as janitorial work or work in the kitchen. Later in the story, it’s shown that she has more privileges than the other patients.

Don’t expect any clear answers to questions about Cecile’s background. Just like all the other characters in this movie, her backstory is non-existent, which is one of the main reasons why all of the characters’ personalities are such huge voids. When Jacob asks Cecile how long she’s been at the institution, she replies, “Too long.” When they first see each other, they crawl on all fours, circle each other, and sniff each other like animals. But it’s all just a moronic charade, because during most of the “courtship” between Jacob and Cecile, they definitely act like humans.

In fact, what makes “Wolf” almost laughable is how so much of it looks like an actors’ workshop where people were told to rehearse acting like animals. This phoniness dilutes any terror that the movie might have intended. The “group therapy” sessions consists of people squawking and grunting in a room to mimic the sounds of whatever animal they think they are. Most of the patients are in their late teens or 20s. They include:

  • Rufus (played by Fionn O’Shea), who thinks he’s a feral German Shepherd.
  • Jeremy (played by Darragh Shannon), who thinks he’s a squirrel.
  • Ola (played by Amy Macken), who thinks she’s a spider.
  • An unnamed young woman (played by Elsa Fionuir), who thinks she’s a horse.
  • Annalisa (played by Karise Yansen), who thinks she’s a panda.
  • Judith (played by Lola Petticrew), who thinks she’s a parrot.
  • Ivan (played by Senan Jennings), who thinks he’s a duck.

For reasons that aren’t explained, Ivan is the only patient who is an underage child. He’s about 6 or 7 years old, so any cruelty to him is supposed to be more disturbing than what’s inflicted on the older patients. Rufus is the patient who comes the closest to being on the road to “recovery,” so he’s used as an example of being a “model patient.” All that means is that Rufus is predictably going to be used as a snitch if any of the other patients rebel.

The Zookeeper is the one who leads the “aversion therapy” that takes place outdoors in the nearby woods. Some of this “therapy” includes forcing the patients to simulate human hunting of animals. It’s supposed to tap into their human side, as Annalisa explains to newcomer Jacob. When the patients are outdoors, they are often pulled around on leashes or chains.

Another tactic is to try to get the patients to feel pain or nausea for doing things just like their wild animal counterparts. For example, Jeremy is ordered to climb up a tree like a real squirrel would. Some of the Jeremy’s fingernails break off in this futile effort, but he’s still forced to try to climb the tree, even when his fingers start bleeding. When Jeremy stops because of the pain, the Zookeeper exclaims triumphantly: “You see? You’re not really a rodent!”

It should come as no surprise that there are scenes of people eating food that humans aren’t supposed to eat. The “therapy” methods are so counter-productive and ridiculous, viewers already know that this institution doesn’t care about “curing” its patients, because how else would it stay in business if everyone was “cured” and never came back? And because the movie tells so little about the patients, there’s hardly anyone to root for in this clumsily constructed story.

After a patient “graduates” from the institution, there’s a “severance ceremony,” where the patient burns a photo of the animal that they previously identified as. But it all proves to be a very superficial exercise because the “relapse” rate is high. And there are scenes showing that many of the patients say what the officials want to hear, but then go back to their animal ways when none of the officials is looking.

There are hints that people outside the institution know what a terrible place it is. Rufus’ mother (played by Mary Lou McCarthy) storms into the institution one day and insists on taking him out of there when she hears about the abuse. However, the Zookeeper is able to manipulate her into thinking that the institution is her only chance of “curing” Rufus, and she ends up letting Rufus stay there.

In another scene, an unidentified man wearing a pig’s mask throws a rock through a closed window of the institution building while yelling, “Animal freaks!,” and then running away before he can be caught. The people inside the building look on in shock, but then they continue to do what they were doing, as if nothing happened. This vandalism is the only indication that people in the community have fear and loathing of this institution. The institution’s effect on the community could have been an intriguing subplot if explored in a clever way. However, this institutiton seems to be very good at hiding its secrets, because no investigation by law enforcement or social services is ever conducted during this movie.

One of the worst things about “Wolf” is that it’s so heavy-handed with its point that humans can be the worst animals of all. But in sloppily making this point (there are too many plot holes and missing details), Biancheri and the other “Wolf” filmmakers didn’t give much humanity or even a basic personal story to any of the movie’s main characters. And that leaves this movie called “Wolf” as the equivalent of a wild creature that wants to take a savage bite out of society, but in the end is just toothless.

Focus Features released “Wolf” in select U.S. cinemas on December 3, 2021.

Review: ‘Here Are the Young Men,’ starring Dean-Charles Chapman, Finn Cole, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Travis Fimmel

June 3, 2021

by Carla Hay

Dean-Charles Chapman, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Finn Cole in “Here Are the Young Men” (Photo courtesy of Well Go USA)

“Here Are the Young Men”

Directed by Eoin Macken

Culture Representation: Taking place in Dublin from June to August 2003, the dramatic film “Here Are the Young Men” features an all-white cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Three teenage hoodlum friends spend their first summer out of high school by making mischief and partying, but they are haunted by witnessing a car accident that killed a young girl, and their friendship will be tested by other issues.

Culture Audience: “Here Are the Young Men” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching a coming-of-age film about rebellious youth, but the movie is ultimately a shallow exercise in glorifying criminal activities.

Finn Cole, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Dean-Charles Chapman and Anya Taylor-Joy in “Here Are the Young Men” (Photo courtesy of Well Go USA)

Rebellious teens have been the subjects of countless movies, so audiences need to have a reason to care when yet another one of these stories is made into a movie. Unfortunately, “Here Are the Young Men” should have been titled “Here Are the Young Men Being Glorified for Getting Away With Serious Crimes.” The movie tries to be artsy with some psychedelic-like hallucinations throughout the film, and the cast members do the best that they can with the weak material that they’ve been given. But it’s not enough to save this very hollow film that tries to justify atrocious and violent crimes with the excuse that angry young men just need to let off some steam.

“Here Are the Young Men” was written and directed by Eoin Macken, who adapted the movie from Rob Doyle’s 2014 novel of the same name. And this movie, which attempts to be a gritty portrayal of working-class life in Dublin in 2003, actually comes across as a fantasy of what it would be like to be a teenage male hoodlum who gets away with everything. The movie gives very little thought to the victims who have been hurt by the increasingly despicable actions of one of the main characters. Instead, the movie puts all the sympathy on the trio of hooligans who are the cause of all the mayhem in the story.

The movie takes place from June to August 2003, the first summer after pals Matthew Connolly (played by Dean-Charles Chapman), Joseph Kearney (played by Finn Cole) and Rez (played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) have left high school. Matthew and Rez have graduated, while Joseph (the most problematic one in the trio) was expelled. Viewers can assume these alcohol-guzzling pub-hoppers are all 18 years old, the minimum legal age to drink alcohol in Ireland. It’s one of the few legal things that these hoodlums do when they party.

The movie’s opening scene takes place at a funeral attended by Matthew. He says in a voiceover: “They say that the summer you finish school is the best time of your life because it’s your final summer of freedom and you become men. It’s important. I just didn’t realize how important it would be. This is a real story … I’m sorry for some of the choices we made.”

The funeral is shown again at the end of the film. But in between, the majority of the story is a flashback, told from Matthew’s perspective, of what happened during that fateful summer. Opening with the funeral scene was artistically a big mistake, because viewers will immediately know that a major character is going to die in this story. And it’s not going to be Matthew.

And so, there’s no real suspense or surprise when that death happens, because the tension builds to such a predictable point that it’s fairly easy to guess who’s going to die. The only real question is how will that person die? The cause of death is also easily predicted during a pivotal moment in the last third of the film.

The flashback begins with Matthew in a meeting with his school headmaster Mr. Landerton (played by Ralph Ineson), who is conducting an exit interview, as is the school’s custom with all graduating students. Matthew seems bored and reluctant to tell Mr. Landerton what Matthew’s plans are after high school, probably because Matthew doesn’t have any plans.

Matthew says, “If it makes you happy for your report, just write that I’ve improved as an individual, grown into a respectable young scholar—and it’s all because of you.” Mr. Landerton shakes Matthew hand and says that he knows that things have been difficult for Matthew. Mr. Landerton adds, “Be careful with your choices.”

What has been difficult for Matthew? It’s not fully explained in the movie, but Matthew’s father is no longer in the home. Based on the way that this absentee father is not discussed in Matthew’s household, it’s implied that his father isn’t dead but has abandoned the family. Matthew is an only child and he lives with mother Lynn Connolly (played by Susan Lynch), who seems to have a drinking problem because in the few times she’s seen, she’s holding an alcoholic drink and/or appears to be drunk.

Joseph also lives in a single-parent household, but with his father Mark Kearney (played by Conleth Hill), who pays more attention to what’s on television than he pays attention to Joseph. The movie doesn’t explain what happened to Joseph’s mother. Joseph has an older brother named Dwayne Kearney (played by Chris Newman), who lives in another household and appears in one of Joseph’s many hallucinations. Joseph is the angriest and most mentally disturbed of the three pals, as it becomes very clear later on in the story.

Rez is the friend who is the most mysterious. In other words, he’s the most underwritten of the three friends. He doesn’t even have a last name in the movie. Nothing is shown of Rez’s home life. All viewers know about Rez is that he likes to dress all in black, he does a lot of drugs, and he makes money by selling drugs. Rez is also a lot more sensitive than he’s willing to show most people. One of the few people he opens up to is another teenager named Julie (played by Lola Petticrew), who has a sexual relationship with Rez that can best be described as “friends with benefits.”

The graduation ceremony at the school is never shown. However, it isn’t long after Matthew and Rez get their “freedom” that Matthew, Rez and Joseph decide to go back to their school to vandalize it during the daytime when the school is on a summer break. They start by going to a local church, popping some pills and mocking the communion ritual, with Rez saying “Body of Christ,” before he swallows a pill.

Then, they head to the school and spraypaint graffiti on an instruction board. The graffiti they put on the board shows a penis and a stick figure with the words, “Luke, I am your father, but you are my god.” And because Joseph is the group’s biggest troublemaker, he throws a desk through a closed window, thereby shattering the window with no regard that someone could be hit by the desk or the broken glass on the street below. (Fortunately, no one gets injured.)

The mayhem continues when they go to the school’s parking garage. Joseph sees Mr. Landerton’s car and starts destroying it with a crowbar. During this vandalism, he has a rage-filled rant, as if he’s taking out all of his anger on Mr. Landerton, who expelled him from the school. After a while, Rez joins in on the destruction too.

Matthew shows some restraint and seems reluctant to participate in this senseless act of violence. Just then, Mr. Landerton shows up with some police officers. And this is where the movie starts to go downhill with a very unrealistic scene. Instead of the cops immediately arresting these young punks, Mr. Landerton just stands there and tries to reason with these vandals.

First, the headmaster asks Matthew if he really wants to be a part of this criminal activity. In defiance, Matthew chooses to side with his pals, so he bashes one of the car’s outside mirrors. Matthew, Joseph and Rez then climb out a nearby window and run away, with two or three cops in pursuit.

The chase continues through some streets and an alley, but the cops are out of shape and can’t keep with these teenagers. The last cop to keep the chase going eventually gives up in frustration. But here’s the thing that’s so ridiculous about this movie: Matthew, Joseph and Rez don’t face any consequences.

They are never arrested for the vandalism, even though Mr. Landerton knows where they live and could easily send the cops to the teens’ homes to arrest them. But that never happens. Viewers have to assume that Mr. Landerton might have decided not to press charges, but what kind of school headmaster would let anyone get away with all that damage on the school property when the perpetrators were caught in the act?

It’s just one of many plot holes of stupidity that plague this movie, which is really just a showcase to make it look like just because someone is a working-class teen, it’s enough to feel angst and justify committing crimes. We won’t even get into the racial inequalities of what kinds of punishments these teens would experience if they weren’t white. It’s a privileged blind spot that this movie has because its only concern is making it look like these lazy cretins are just going through a rebellious rite of passage.

The reality is that these teens are not “oppressed” in any way and have no good reason for committing any crimes. They might not come from rich families, but they’re not homeless and not scrounging for food. They don’t experience racism, sexism or other forms of discrimination. They have other people (their parents) paying their bills and providing them with a place to live. Rez’s home life isn’t shown, but it’s implied that he doesn’t have to worry about paying rent.

And apparently, even their school headmaster is willing to look the other way and not hold them accountable for their crimes. There’s no logical reason for why this headmaster would be an enabler, when his job would be at stake for letting these destructive teens get away with the vandalism they committed on school property. These are not wealthy kids who can buy their way out of trouble, but there’s an air of bratty entitlement that this movie has that’s just so annoying.

Later in the movie, Matthew gets a job at an auto tire shop. It’s one of the few mature and responsible things that he does in the story. But then, there’s a scene where Matthew deliberately sets the shop on fire. And yet, the movie never shows him facing any consequences and never mentions what happened as a result of the fire. In fact, the rest of the movie acts like the fire never even happened. It’s all just sloppy screenwriting.

One thing that the movie constantly brings up is how a certain car accident affected these three troublemaking friends. Shortly after they get away with the vandalism at their school, Matthew, Joseph and Rez are on a busy commercial street when they witness a fatal car accident. The driver hit and killed a girl who was about 7 or 8 years because she suddenly ran out on the street. The girl’s mother rushed to her side and wailed for help.

On the surface, the three buddies all try to get on with their lives and continue their partying and mischief making. But seeing someone die right before their eyes is something that has a psychological effect on them. Matthew tries to “clean up” his life a little bit by getting a job at the tire shop. (It’s all for nothing though, because Matthew ends up setting the shop on fire.) Rez falls into a deep depression. Joseph develops a macabre obsession to see someone else die in front of him.

Joseph drops many hints that after seeing someone die, he now has a desire to become a murderer. When he tries to talk about it with his friends, they give him strange looks and he says he’s just joking. Joseph’s increasingly twisted mindset is manifested in a series of hallucinations centered on a TV talk show that Joseph’s father Mark likes to watch.

The program is called “Big Show,” and it’s hosted by a black-haired unnamed man (played by Travis Fimmel) who is styled to look like a menacing satanic figure, but without devil horns. His has a pointy beard and long sideburns and a constant sinister smirk. In the hallucinations about “Big Show,” this TV host brings on certain guests to taunt them, humiliate them and test their endurance.

At various points in the movie, Joseph and Matthew imagine themselves as guests on “Big Show.” Much of the program revolves around the TV presenter talking about masculinity and what it means to be a real man. In one “episode,” the presenter has a woman called Angel Dust (played by Noomi Rapace, in a cameo) on stage and ends up sexually groping her without consent, as the all-male audience cheers.

Sometimes, in Joseph’s “Big Show” hallucinations, his brother Dwayne is in the audience too. It’s supposed to represent Joseph’s conscious or subconscious desire to get his brother Dwayne’s approval. The more violent crimes that Joseph commits, the more he seems to get approval from the “Big Show” host, until it reaches the point where Joseph struts around as if he’s the star of the show.

Matthew’s “Big Show” hallucinations show him as a more hesitant guest, since in real life, he’s the only one out of the three friends who seems to be a little uncomfortable with violent crimes, and he tries to make an honest living. Joseph is never seen doing any work (legal or illegal) in this story, but early on in the movie he mentions that he wants to be a video game developer. Joseph says he has an idea for an Irish Republican Army video game that he wants to call “The Provos.”

Someone who occasionally hangs out with these troublemakers is a fellow teen named Jen (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), who was in the same graduating class as Matthew and Rez. Jen is smart and level-headed. Matthew has a big crush on her, and the feeling might be mutual. They have typical flirty banter where they try to pretend that they aren’t as attracted to each other as they really are.

Jen wants to leave Dublin as soon as she can. Her dream is to live in the United States and become an entertainer or a fashion designer. In the meantime, she sings at a local nightclub. (In one of these nightclub scenes, she performs a cover version of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control.”) Taylor-Joy is a good singer, but the scenes of her on stage don’t add much to the story, except to show Matthew ogling Jen. The movie’s soundtrack, which has several songs by Magnets & Ghosts, is mostly alternative rock and some electronica.

Joseph also wants to go to America, and he gets a chance to take a trip to visit the U.S. at one point in the movie. (“Here Are the Young Men” director Macken has a quick cameo as an unnamed homeless man who has an unfortunate encounter with Joseph.) Joseph is never actually seen in America, but he’s made videos of his trip. Some of those videos are shown in the movie.

When Joseph comes back to Dublin, he reveals certain things about himself that show he’s gone beyond vandalism to committing crimes that are even more violent and disturbing. Matthew, Rez and Jen are all affected by Joseph’s increasingly unhinged, out-of-control behavior. And in a predictable teen movie like this one, that means it’s all going to culiminate with some heavy melodrama.

“Here Are the Young Men” takes a very disappointing approach of having mayhem for mayhem’s sake. The hallucinatory “Big Show” scenes aren’t very clever. And the movie’s best and most authentic-looking scene isn’t even about the boys’ friendship but it’s a scene where Matthew and Jen have a big argument over something that happened at a party.

It’s a scene that affects Matthew and Jen’s relationship and brings up very realistic issues about how perceptions are affected by intoxication from alcohol and drugs, which can impair the ability to give consent in sexual situations. The scene also candidly addresses gender roles and expectations in dating relationships. And it’s where Matthew gets some awareness of how the toxic masculinity that he participates in and enables can hit closer to home than he expected.

Unfortunately, this awareness comes so late in the story that it’s questionable how much Matthew might have really learned to become a better person when he makes a certain decision in reaction to something that upset him. Ironically, for a movie called “Here Are the Young Men,” the character of Jen is the most fascinating and has the most interesting things to say. However, she is written as a secondary character.

The scenes with Jen and Matthew have a familiar “will they or won’t they get together” arc that’s often seen in teen dramas. However, Taylor-Joy (who’s an award-winning actress on the rise) and Chapman (who was quite memorable in his role as a young British soldier in the World War I movie “1917”) are good-enough in their roles to bring believable emotions to characters that wouldn’t be as watchable if portrayed by less-talented actors. Jen is about the same age as Matthew, Rez and Joseph, but she’s much more emotionally mature than they are.

The characters of Joseph and Rez both struggle with personal demons more than Matthew does. Joseph’s anger is explosive and mostly directed at other people, while Rez tends to be more introverted and self-destructive. Cole and Ferdia-Peelo give convincing but not particularly outstanding performances of how Joseph and Rez mentally unravel in their own ways. All the parental/authority figures are essentially just background characters who don’t have much influence in what these teens say or do.

The main problem with “Here Are the Young Men” isn’t the cast members’ performances but in the way that writer/director Macken seems more concerned with showing how much worse the criminal chaos can get for these teen delinquents, rather than any true character development. There’s a tone throughout the movie that’s seems to say, “You thought what so-and-so did was bad, just wait until you see what this person does next.” After a while, it feels very hollow and lacking in suspense, since apparently the movie is intent on making it look like Dublin law enforcement is incompetent and that these three law-breaking jerks are untouchable.

This movie starts to look very unrealistic when these known hoodlums, who commit their crimes out in the open, never seem to be at any real risk of beng arrested. The movie becomes a repetitive series of crimes and drug-induced hallucinations that ultimately serve no purpose except to show these characters getting away with these crimes. The movie didn’t need to have any moralistic preaching to be improved. By the end of the film, viewers just won’t care about these self-absorbed troublemakers who are so bored with their lives that they create damaging problems for themselves and other people.

Well Go USA released “Here Are the Young Men” on digital and VOD on April 27, 2021.

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