Love and regret. Cold weather and hot drama. The 2003 Scottish film "Young Adam" stars some of the finest actors working today Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Emily Mortimer, and Peter Mullan. Based on a novel by Alexander Trocchi, "Young Adam" is a study in character, mood, and psychology of its well-defined characters.
Taking place in the 1950's
. Joe (McGregor) is working on a coal barge when he sees a woman's body floating towards him. He and the much older Les (Mullan) drag her aboard. She looks to have been assaulted as she is only wearing a thin petticoat. Joe seems particularly upset at the site of this as if he knows something. Joe's backstory is told in a number of flashbacks. He was a writer who fell in love with a girl named Cathie (Mortimer), their rocky relationship is chronicled in most of the flashbacks. They eventually show how Joe ended up working on the barge. Daily life on the barge is cold, cramped, and dirty. Throw in Les's wife Ella (Swinton) and you have the makings of a sort of one-sided love triangle. Although she half-heartedly tries to deny Joe's advances, she ultimately gives into him. Her marriage to Les is just as cold and bitter as a Glasgow, Scotland winter. Les knows their having an affair, but really does nothing to stop them. Glasgow
As we find out Joe is really not that good of a person, but he is not really all that bad either. We also find out what has been haunting him, and there are things he could do to set the record straight, but does he risk his own life to do it? All of the characters are tortured souls in one way or another, making their way through life like a slow rolling fog. All of the acting is magnificent, especially by the women. Nothing is held back and their fearlessness makes a huge impact.
"Young Adam" is rated the dreaded NC-17 for explicit sex and nudity, but it's not done in a gratuitous or exploitive way. Don't let the rating discourage you from seeing this truly great film. Search it out tonight!