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Joe, a rootless young drifter, finds work on a barge travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh, owned by Les and his wife Ella. One afternoon they discover the corpse of a young woman floating in the water. Accident? Suicide? Murder? As the police investigate and suspect is arrested, we discover that Joe knows more than he is letting on. Gradually we learn of Joe's past relationship with the dead woman. Meanwhile an unspoken attraction develops between Joe and Ella, heightening the claustrophobic tensions in the confined space of the barge. Written by
Well-crafted film with strong performances and a pervading, restrained sadness that echoes its Beat heritage.
Young Adam is a powerful and atmospheric drama set on the canals between Glasgow and Edinburgh during the 1950s.
Ewan McGregor is Joe, a drifter working on a barge, when he and his boss find a body in the canal. As he begins an affair with the bargeman's wife (Tilda Swinton), we find out more about his previous relationship with the drowned woman (Emily Mortimer).
Adapted from the novel by Scottish Beat writer Alexander Trocchi, Young Adam is, in some ways, a kitchen sink drama a vivid picture of working class life in its unpleasant reality. One of the best examples of this type of film is Room at the Top (1959). But Young Adam has existentialist overtones: Joe is alienated and passive, and not only do his numerous sexual couplings offer him little pleasure, but in rejecting the only thing that could redeem him, he condemns himself to a meaningless life. This might sound too depressing, but screenwriter and director David Mackenzie gives the film great depth and sensuality. Very interesting. ****/***** stars.
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