Running Time: 93 minutes
UK Certificate: 18
Country: United Kingdom, United Kingdom
1950s Glasgow-set Young Adam has several striking features to it: an impressive performance from Ewan McGregor, painstaking direction from David Mackenzie, and an incredible amount of nookie. It also struck me that theres nobody in it whos actually called Adam. Its something Id like to ask original novelist Alexander Trocchi about, but cant because hes dead. So there goes that idea, then.
McGregor plays Joe (not Adam), a struggling writer who takes a job working on a barge for a cold and deadpan couple played by Peter Mullan and Tilda Swinton, neither of whom are called Adam. When the body of a woman whos name isnt Adam is found floating in the canal, flashbacks start to piece together the grimy tale of Joes connection to said corpse.
Joes favourite past-times appear to be bed-hopping and sitting around looking moody, both of which there is a LOT of in this film. Grubby sex scenes are used to paint a picture of Joes less-than-charming personality, with an array of daft women seemingly willing to drop their drawers at the very sight of him. When his new landlord says to him Youll have to meet the missus. I work nights youll probably see more of her than me, you know instantly that the last thing this guy should be doing is letting him ANYWHERE NEAR his missus. And, in one of the flicks more shocking moments, one of his conquests stands in full view of him in a bath. Its not the nudity thats shocking as much as the idea that a Glaswegian would ever take a bath. We also get to see Ewans McGregor, which I have to admit is something I could have lived without.
As an exercise in direction, cinematography and even acting Young Adam is a triumph. McGregor, Swinton, Mullan and Mortimer are well used to doing this sort of stuff, and for Ewan in particular it must be much less of a strain than having to persist with those dodgy Alec Guinness impersonations as Obi-Wan. Unfortunately, as a story its dirty, not particularly interesting and has a wholly unsatisfying ending which left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
It's Got: A novel use for custard.
It Needs: To tell us who Adam is. All we know for sure is that hes young.
A well-made and well-acted film with a distinct indie feel to it. Just a pity David Mackenzie couldnt find a better tale to give his big screen adaptation treatment to.