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Young Adam (2003)

6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 10,299 users   Metascore: 67/100
Reviews: 110 user | 109 critic | 32 from Metacritic.com

A young drifter working on a river barge disrupts his employers' lives while hiding the fact that he knows more about a dead woman found in the river than he admits.

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Title: Young Adam (2003)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Therese Bradley ...
Gwen
Ewan Stewart ...
Daniel Gordon
...
Bill
Pauline Turner ...
Connie
Alan Cooke ...
Bob M'bussi
...
Sam
...
Freight Supervisor
Andrew Neil ...
Barman
Arnold Brown ...
Bowler Hat Man
Meg Fraser ...
Stall Woman
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Storyline

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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

river | drifter | barge | police | murder | See All (193) »

Genres:

Drama | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated NC-17 for some explicit sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

26 September 2003 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

El joven Adán  »

Box Office

Budget:

£4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$50,278 (USA) (16 April 2004)

Gross:

$767,240 (USA) (13 August 2004)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the first film which Mcgregor did not take his family along for the shoot. See more »

Goofs

The chords heard as Les plays the guitar change, but his fingers don't move. See more »

Quotes

Joe Taylor: I think she went to a bridge fully dressed and stood there breathing the warm night air. And she took off her jacket and folded it neatly on the ground. And then she unbuttoned her blouse and undid her brassiere and let it drop down on top of the other clothes. And she'd unbutton her skirt and let it slip down over her hips. And then she'd unroll her stockings and hold them out so that they blew in the breeze like penance before she let them float off into the night. And she'd shiver and ask ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

References L'Atalante (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

HAITIAN FIGHT SONG
Written by Charles Mingus
Performed by The Hung Drawn Quartet
Produced by David Byrne
Published by Jazz Workshop, Inc. (BMI)
Arranged by Raymond MacDonald
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User Reviews

Relentless character study of a man on the run
14 November 2004 | by See all my reviews

The films focus on translating the novels first person perspective is clearly an obsession for this director. Never is the audiences attention allowed outside of Joe's point of view. We see only what he sees, we hear nothing more and we remember his life in little snatches, moments of dark disgusting and secret clarity he keeps from the world.

The film starts with a corpse, a barely dressed woman floating in the Clyde that is fished out by Joe; a young man working the barges for reasons that are not immediately clear. This brutal beginning in which we see Joe lay a tender hand on the cold dead flesh of the girl begins the film with a level of tension that rarely leaves the screen. Through his actions and - more importantly - his inactions we peel away the outer layers of a man on the run from himself, from responsibility and from guilt. We see him commit two murders by mission of inaction and we see him quietly dealing with that in one last lingering shot that tells us he will never change.

Joe is sexually driven to destroy life around him and he uses sex as a weapon against himself and against the possibility of settling or creating a future. He could be a writer, but he lacks the courage to read his own work. He could be a father, but he cannot face the thought of commitment. He could be a lover, but he makes love to women only as a means to an end, rejecting and pushing them away once the act is completed.

And this is the film in a nutshell. A relentless character study of an unpleasant man who punishes those around him for his own failings. Yes there is gratuitous sex in this film, but it has its place, it defines the moments of change in everyone else's lives while underlining the static character of Joe, played with utter brilliance by Ewen McGregor. The sex is cold, rather than erotic, reflecting the characters contempt for those he uses. Without the detailed sex scenes the film would be less than it is, but audiences expected to be titillated will come away disappointed.

Not without flaws this film has that perplexing title and a scene in which Joe beats his girlfriend after covering her with custard. The scene is alien to both the film and the character of Joe who gives no indication of being violent, rather a man that will walk out on a problem rather than face the awful possibility of confrontation. In fact Ewen McGregor seems embarrassed to play this scene, as though he too cannot link this outburst to the character he is playing.

But this minor quibble apart the film remains an artistically shot work, played with brilliance by everyone. Its rare to see a film where the whole cast are brilliant, where the script is clearly cut and the direction thought through. The visual aspect of the film is also tremendous with each shot being laid out in front of us like a painting, a wondrous work of art that moves and flows to show us the 60's post war Brittan with utter clarity.

Hollywood please take note.


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