Young Ones (2014)
Editor’s Notes: The following review is part of our coverage of the Munich International Film Festival. For more information visit filmfest-muenchen.de/en and follow the Filmfest München on Twitter at @filmfestmunich.
Jake Paltrow’s Young Ones had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance and celebrated its German premiere at Filmfest Munich this week. The dystopian drama, almost a futuristic Western, explores a dried out world in which water is rare and people are willing to do anything to gain access to a constant water source. In three chapters, Young Ones concentrates on its three male protagonists and plays out similar to a Greek tragedy.
The classic tale of flawed characters, heroes and antiheroes, guilt and revenge is beautifully shot and offers great performances, especially by Michael Shannon and Nicolas Hoult.
The first introductory chapter opens with Ernest Holmes (Michael Shannon), a tough guy who lives with his two kids Jerome (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Mary (Elle Fanning) in a dusty, deserted region with few water resources. He is first introduced in a violent scene, defending his property from water thieves by killing them almost immediately. Jerome remains his companion throughout the film while Mary acts rather rebellious and gets involved with Flem (Nicholas Hoult), a charming yet deceitful and arrogant young man with plans to take over Ernest’s farm. His character is further explored in the second chapter after a tragic incident and explores his true intentions, his relationship with Mary and Jerome as well as his slowly approaching downfall. The third and last chapter then shifts to Jerome’s perspective and shows his changed outlook on his current circumstances and illustrates his transformation from an innocent boy into a man.
Shot in a remote area in South Africa, the landscape contributes to the dystopian, deserted atmosphere with its sparse and harsh character. Similar to the fictional farm, the actual farm where Young Ones was shot suffered from water shortage and had to survive on water supplies from outside which probably made it easier for the members of the crew to relate to the film’s topic. Besides the problematic, essential acquisition of water, Young Ones also reflects on the relationship between human beings and the machines necessary for the Holmes’ family to improve their working conditions in this futuristic story. In the press note, Paltrow mentions that the robot functions as scapegoat and a bridge between the characters.
The classic tale of flawed characters, heroes and antiheroes, guilt and revenge is beautifully shot and offers great performances, especially by Michael Shannon and Nicolas Hoult. The latter succeeds in portraying a selfish, scheming antihero in contrast to Shannon’s character.
The innovative yet classic tale of flawed characters, heroes and antiheroes, guilt and revenge is beautifully shot and offers great performances.