Sill images from the 2018 Movie Here Are The Young Men

Here Are The Young Men – Macken’s movie never quite reaches its full potential


Here Are The Young Men arrives on Digital Platforms 30th of April through Signature Entertainment.

Read any modern article exploring masculinity in youth, and the word ‘toxic’ is banded around freely. In fact, the concept and theory of toxic masculinity and its damage to the individual, family, and broader society is now a part of the male social experience. However, what is toxic masculinity? And does this singular term label all boys and young men with little thought about the impact?

Over recent years, toxic masculinity has become a catch-all for exploring male violence, sexism and misogyny. However, less explored is the ever-increasing suicide rate among men, underserved mental health provision for boys and the spiralling effects of right-wing extremism and alienation. So does the term toxic masculinity help inform the debate on the young male experience? Or does it build further social barriers to change?

Movies ranging from Stand By Me to The Outsiders and If… have explored the power of the male peer group and the repressed emotions many boys hold close. However, none of the films listed above sought to label all young men as dangerous, allowing the boys watching to explore their own emotions and lived experiences through the characters onscreen. Maintaining this balance is essential when exploring developing masculinity in any film. However, not all films get this balance right, and despite its potential, Eoin C. Macken’s Here Are The Young Men fails to offer us anything different or meaningful.

Based on Rob Doyle’s novel, the movie’s narrative is confused, lacking in nuance and often unbalanced in its conversations. This is a pity, given the creativity, solid performances and goldmine of ideas brought to the screen. The year is 2003, and Ireland’s economy is booming as the country rapidly changes into a Celtic tiger. Matthew (Dean Charles Chapman), Kearney (Finn Cole) and Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) are bathing in the freedom that comes from the end of school even though the ring leader, Kearney, was expelled months before the final bell rang. But the party is about to end as they witness a tragic accident on a street corner.

Macken’s movie initially takes many of its cues from a string of 90s lad culture movies before suddenly and sharply morphing into a much deeper social drama. This transition sees the boy’s inner lives, thoughts and emotions brought to life in a series of fevered visions and dreams. Here Are The Young Men could easily be labelled as a conversation on toxic masculinity in early millennial youth culture, but the core narrative attempts to dive deeper as it explores class, family and culture. In doing so there is a lot to praise in the vision of Macken’s film, but equally, that makes it all the more disappointing when the narrative unravels.

Each boy deserves more onscreen time, with many aspects of their life left hanging or unexplored. This creates two-dimensional characters that too often feel underserved despite the strong performances of Dean Charles Chapman, Finn Cole and Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. Unfortunately, as a result, Here Are The Young Men’s sweeping discussion on masculinity falls into the same trap as many of the 90s movies it initially reflects. Here behaviours and thoughts only loosely explore the social structures that ultimately created them in a film that feels hollow and far too limited in its dramatic scope.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.


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