Tag Archives: Dean Charles-Chapman

The Kids Are Not Alright

Here Are the Young Men

by Christie Robb

Based on Rob Doyle’s 2014 novel of the same name, Eoin Macken’s Here Are the Young Men is a bleak look at the emotional lives of three boys poised between school, with a somewhat sheltered boyhood, and real life, with its associated responsibility.

The boys witness the death of a little girl and their individual reactions send them down different paths. Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Vikings) sinks into depression and nihilism, more or less disappearing from the movie.

Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman, 1917/Game of Thrones) desires the stabilization of a proper job and a romantic relationship. Kearney (an unsettling Finn Cole, Peaky Blinders) is awakened, inspired by the immediacy of death, and gives himself permission to satisfy his dark impulses.

The boys’ days and nights are awash in a staggering amount and variety of drugs, downed with beer or vodka. Much of the movie is shot out of focus or uses staccato editing to reinforce the sense that the boys are more or less skating over the surface of their lives, ignoring the emotional depths beneath.

Despite their purported friendship and shared traumatic experience, there’s no solace for the boys in their relationships with each other. The few adults that occasionally appear are either menacing, distracted, or bearers of tired bromides. The young men are isolated and left to stumble along, making choices that aren’t informed by reason. The choices are a creature’s response to an applied stimulus.

Matthew and Kearney’s inner lives are somewhat illustrated by shots of their television screens, which show a kind of cartoonish representation of their subconscious or inner lives. Sometimes the TV shows what is happening to a character separated from the others by distance. I imagine this is an attempt to compensate for the lack of the novel’s inner monologues. And it’s ok, but is kind of jarring, given the spare emotional tone of the rest of the film, and inconsistently applied.

You might ask where the young women are. Well, there is one, Jen (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit), Matthew’s sometime girlfriend. Taylor-Joy is magnetic and draws the eye in every scene. There’s just not much for her to do except to express disappointment and defend her virginity. With another actress, this character would be all but forgettable. In the real world, Jen would hang out with other people.

Ultimately, the film serves as a reminder of similar, but more memorable entries in the genre like A Clockwork Orange or Trainspotting. Here Are the Young Men fails to differentiate this generation’s young men from the generations proceeding them. Just more sludge in the puddle of toxic masculinity.

Indirect Message


by George Wolf

War. Maybe you’ve heard of it lately.

Taking inspiration from the past, director Sam Mendes has crafted an immaculate exercise in technical wonder, passionate vision and suddenly vital reminders.

The inherent gamble in crafting a film via one extended take – or the illusion of it – lies in the final cut existing as little more than a gimmick, spurring a ‘spot the edit’ challenge that eclipses the narrative.

1917 clears that hurdle in the first five minutes.

It is WWI, and British Corporals Blake and Schofield (Dean Charles-Chapman and George MacKay, both wonderful) are standing before their General (Colin Firth) amid the highest of stakes. Allied intelligence has revealed an imminent offensive will lead straight into a German ambush, and the corporals’ success at traveling deep into enemy territory to deliver the order to abort is all that will keep thousands of soldiers – including Blake’s own brother – from certain death.

Mendes dedicates the film to the stories told by his grandfather, and it stands thick with the humanity of bravery and sacrifice that ultimately prevailed through the most hellish of circumstances.

Blake and Schofield head out alone, enveloped by ballet-worthy camerawork and pristine cinematography (Roger Deakins, natch) that never blinks. The opportunities for edits may be evident at times, but the narrative experience is so immersive you’ll hardly care. We’re not merely following along on this mission, we’re part of every heart-stopping minute.

Anyone who’s seen the actual WW1 footage from Peter Jackson’s recent doc They Shall Not Grow Old (an irresistible bookend to 1917) will recognize a certain sanitation to the production design, but the trade-off is a fresh majesty for familiar themes, one that’s consistently grounded in stark intimacy. Mendes and Deakins (buoyed by a subtly evocative score from Thomas Newman) brush away any dangers of “first-person shooter” novelty with a near miraculous level of precise execution that succeeds in raising several bars.

1917 is absolutely one of the best films of the year, but it’s more. It’s an unforgettable and exhausting trip, immediately joining the ranks of the finest war movies ever made.