Young Adam

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Joe Taylor (Ewan McGregor) is a young drifter, a man with no home, no roots, and nowhere he can take sanctuary in times of need. So he drifts from place to place, doing odd jobs to make some cash, then heading out to his next destination. His latest job is on a barge, one that travels between Glasgow and Edinburgh and is owned by a married woman, Ella Gault (Tilda Swinton). She is married to Les (Peter Mullan), but there is no love left in the union. When a woman’s corpse surfaces in the water and is discovered by the barge’s crew, Joe claims to know nothing about the situation. Although he is lying and knows more than he admits, even without his help, a suspect is brought in for the woman’s murder. At the same time, Joe decides to seduce Ella, despite her marital status and the two soon engage in a torrid affair. Les is perhaps aware of the union, but he ignores the actions, though can he ignore them for the entire stint of Joe’s service? While court case for the woman’s murder unfolds, Joe finds himself drawn to the courthouse, where he watches the trial. He begins to go back to his own encounters with the woman, right up until her death. What will become of his relationship with Ella and will he ever reveal what he knows about the woman’s death?

I want to start off by settling the issue fans will want to know about. This film was released in theaters with an NC-17 rating, but the version on this disc is rated R. So is this the same version of Young Adam seen in theaters, or some excised edition? In truth, this is not the same theatrical cut of the movie, but only one scene was removed and that is a graphic oral sex sequence. Columbia has included the complete scene in the supplements however, so few feathers should be ruffled. I’d prefer the scene back in the movie, of course, but the film is just as good as is, so no real complaints. With that said and done, we can discuss the movie itself, which is actually much better than I expected. The press was all over the graphic sex, full frontal nudity, and the like, but there is more here than sex, though it is a crucial element. The plot is well crafted, with a great sense of realism, which is made all the better by some terrific performances. Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Down with Love) is the most bankable, but he is outperformed by Tilda Swinton (The Deep End, Adaptation), who shines here. You’ll also see solid work from Peter Mullan (Miss Julie, Session 9) and Emily Mortimer (Formula 51, Notting Hill), while David Mackenzie supplies competent direction. This is a movie that worth seeking out and Columbia’s disc is a good one, so Young Adam is well recommended.

Video: How does it look?

Young Adam is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This transfer doesn’t dazzle the eyes, but it does maintain the film’s dank, harsh visual design. The film has that stylized approach, so keep that in mind as you watch, so you don’t blame this presentation. The print looks good, with minimal grain and debris, but this transfer doesn’t yield a refined presence. That is intentional, as the movie has a darker, grittier texture that helps set the atmosphere. As I said, the visuals have a darker tone and that means contrast is a little off, while colors take on a more muted look. This is all part of the visual design however, not flaws in this treatment. The movie doesn’t look great here, but it looks like it was supposed to.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is very much a dialogue driven picture, but the included Dolby Digital 5.1 track still delivers a solid audio experience. The surrounds don’t overload with input by any means, but at times it open up a little, which proves to be enough dynamic presence. Aside from the more active sequences, some atmosphere is provided by the musical score, which is well presented and adds some depth to the environment at times. The main element however is the dialogue, which sounds clean and crisp here, no real problems in the least to discuss. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as French subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

You’ll find two audio commentary tracks here, the first with director David Mackenzie, the second with star Tilda Swinton and several production crew members. Mackenzie is more in depth, so he is your choice if you want genuine insight, while the other track is more brisk and laid back, though it has some more than worthwhile stories, so both are worth a listen. This disc also includes the before mentioned deleted scene, some unused narration from McGregor, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

Disc Scores