Young Adam, 2003

A barge laborer named Joe (Ewan McGregor) discovers the body of a partially nude woman floating face down in the river and, together with his employer Les (Peter Mullan), retrieve her corpse from the water. Soon, traces of Joe’s seeming over-curiosity with the dead body begin to surface as he gently caresses the body in the process of discreetly straightening her petticoat. In a subsequent episode, Joe spies on Les and his wife Ella (Tilda Swinton) during an (attempted) act of intimacy. Is his strange fascination with the dead woman a simple reflection of human desire or does it betray a deeper secret? David Mackenzie effectively sustains a foreboding atmosphere and disturbing (and occasionally snide) mood throughout the film, although the narrative (based on an Alexander Trocchi novel) never seems to unfold beyond a superficial level. Inevitably, what results is a flawed, vacuous, but well photographed film.

Sidebar