In a post-apocalyptic eternal drought, people kill for water. Where it is scarce and desperately needed, a farmer (Michael Shannon) defends his land from threat, and hopes to rejuvenate his parched soil in the hope of a better life for his family. However, his daughter's boyfriend (Nicholas Hoult) wants the land for himself, and will go to any length to get it.
No, this is not a film of the 80s British comedy television show. Young Ones (2014) is a much darker tale. This American creation is an interesting and entertaining science-fiction and action film, written and directed by Jake Paltrow. I give this film three out of five stars because, though it was entertaining enough, it isn’t a film you would necessarily want to watch more than once.
Young Ones is set in the future, and tells the tale of the Holm family. Living in an area without water, Ernest Holm (the father - Michael Shannon) is doing everything he can to reenergise the land and save his family. When Flem Lever (Nicholas Hault) starts intruding in his family and business, all while working for his own gain, he and Ernest go head-to-head. People die, lies are told, and tears are shed. Let’s just say, the future looks bleak.
The way the film is separated into three ‘chapters’ is a surprising choice, but it does make the film feel shorter, keeping you in your seat throughout.
Unfortunately, the story became more and more like a soap opera. We have murder, betrayal, and outlaw groups fighting the government. The character and story progression did - for the most part - make sense, but it could have been toned down quite significantly.
As the title of the film states, the majority of the leading cast are young, and yet they have proven themselves to be very talented actors. For the last few years especially, Kodi Smit-McPhee has appeared in a number of films, playing a myriad of characters and showcasing his range. Elle Fanning - Dakota’s sister - while not being in as many productions, is also proving herself to be a real up-and-comer. For Nicholas Hoult (of Skins fame), he still seems to be trying to find his fit; but I think they are all ones to keep your eye on.
It is a difficult thing to make arid, desolate, landscapes look visually appealing. This film managed to do it, thanks to the commendable work of Giles Nuttgens.
Online and in-print reviews for this film, both from general audiences and critics, have been fairly average. Specific complaints feature the lack of originality of future-Earth, and the confusing character arcs.
While I still think the story would have benefitted from being simpler, it was entertaining and well-acted. It is one among the many films that proposes a bleak future for Earth, but you are more invested in the characters. A solid effort, but I wouldn’t be watching it repeatedly.