Oct 3, 2014

Young Ones Movie Review

Young Ones by Jake Paltrow
Release Date: October 17, 2014
Studio: Quickfire Films
Rating: R
Runtime: 100 mins.
Set in a near future when water has become the most precious and dwindling resource on the planet, one that dictates everything from the macro of political policy to the detailed micro of interpersonal family and romantic relationships. The land has withered into something wretched. The dust has settled on a lonely, barren planet. The hardened survivors of the loss of Earth's precious resources scrape and struggle. Ernest Holm Michael Shannon lives on this harsh frontier with his children, Jerome Kodi Smit-McPhee and Mary Elle Fanning. He defends his farm from bandits, works the supply routes, and hopes to rejuvenate the soil. But Mary's boyfriend, Flem Lever (Nicholas Hoult), has grander designs. He wants Ernest's land for himself, and will go to any length to get it. From writer/director Jake Paltrow comes a futuristic western, told in three chapters, which inventively layers Greek tragedy over an ethereal narrative that's steeped deeply in the values of the American West.

Early this week I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a screening for an upcoming science fiction film starring Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Elle Fanning, and Kodi Smit-McPhee.  I was interested in attending because Nicholas Hoult was a lead in the book to movie adaptation of Warm Bodies.  But also from watching the trailer, the movie reminded me of a post apocalyptic setting for a book.

The Young Ones is gritty.  That's actually the first thing I wrote down in my notes about this movie.  It starts off very dry and straight to the point.  Michael Shannon's character (Ernest) enters the film with a bang and continues as a tough as nails, don't take anything from anyone guy.  And as his story evolves you understand why he's the way he is.  Ernest has two kids Jerome (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Mary (Elle Fanning).  You can see their struggles from the get go.  Mary is the rebellious teenager and Jerome is the young boy who tries to do right by his father.  Kodi is truly the break out actor in this film.  I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed his performance.  He's able to play a character that goes through a lot of emotions, and it translates well to screen.

The film is told in three parts, and while the first part is a bit slow.  But that's mostly due to character development and showing exactly how damaged the land is.  The cinematography is great.  I read a description of the film as a futuristic western.  And you truly can get that vibe because in one shot you'll see nothing but dirt, and in the next you'll see a machine trucking down the road.  Very interesting.

Nicholas Hoult probably plays the most interesting character.  The second part of the film focuses on him.  And not gonna lie, I can't tell you how many times I wanted to punch him in the face.  His character has a mission.  But I did sort of feel like his character lacked originality, even though the second part was my favorite.  The tone of the film changed. The characters get more serious, and the acting is great.  And once again Kodi steals it.

As the film rounds up to the third part.  A thought popped into my head.  Water is the foundation of everything.  Without it, we cannot survive.  We thirst for it.  To obtain it, we may do things that are unethical.  This film sends a strong message.  But it also shows the binds of family.  The things we'll do to protect our own.  The emotions is what makes this a great film.  I got a bit teary eyed at the end because the story comes full circle and Kodi really does nail it.

Thank you to Screen Media Films for allowing me to attend this screening.  Young Ones is in theaters October 17th!

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