Young Adam (2003)
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Spoiler warning !!Although the audience may not realise it initially, this film is carefully constructed with two story lines, one of which is through flashbacks that blend so seamlessly with the ‘present’ that it feels like it’s running in parallel. As well, the director is in no hurry to give the audience everything all at once. He lets the flashback story seep through the screen in its good time. However, he does plant along the way plenty of details that may seem a little strange but make perfect sense as the story unfolds. The best example is at the very beginning. Joe (Ewan McGregor) and his employer Les (Peter Mullan) fish a woman’s dead body form the Glasgow-Edinburgh canal which their barge is working. In the same evening, when they are having supper in the cabin with Les’ wife Ella (Tilda Swinton) and little boy, Les asks Joe if he thinks that it’s murder. Joe breaks out into an almost poetic description of what he thinks has happened, that the woman committed suicide. This near-monologue is totally out of character with lowly barge hand Joe, until two things are revealed later: Joe the writer (or his aspiration to be one), and his relationship with the dead woman.Not only the past, but even the present, is revealed ever so gradually. As the sexual liaison between Joe and Ella develops, we are under the impression that Ella is very much of an abused (though not physically or violently) wife totally under the control of her husband. It isn’t until Les confronting Joe on the deck that we see an unexpected turn of events, with Les’ short, crisp announcement of ‘It’s her barge’. Although Les has never been exactly a model husband, it turns out that Ella is the real boss, in a very literal sense. We now see the tough side of Ella. When Les packs his things and leaves, wondering when he can see his son who is now at boarding school, we can’t help but feel a little sympathy for him.The film is certainly not made to please the mainstream audience. First, on the practical side, it does not care about political correctness, and shows cigarette smoking scenes in abundance. The film is shot with a general tone of depressing gloominess, with a few well placed out-focused scenes, the most noticeable being the ending scene with Joe walking away from the river. Yet, there is a melancholic beauty in the sometimes grainy photography. At the very beginning, the long-range shot of the dock and background scenery is so beautifully framed that it can easily win a price at a photography contest. Equally melancholic is the general use of the cello in background music. Sound off is not used that much. In fact I only recall one, the sound of buses and other street vehicles, cutting from Joe with Ella in bed at the cabin of the barge to a flashback of a busy street scene of his re-encounter with his ex-girlfriend Cathie (Emily Mortimer). The motif of the hand mirror inscribed with loving words from Cathie to Joe is, however, slightly over-used.As to my summary line, all of the more subtle exchanges in the film are made in silence, rather than with dialogue. The two best examples are of course Joe’s seduction of Ella and his first encounter with Cathy (in that order in the film, but in reverse order chronologically). There is of course dialogue but by the time it gets to the dialogue, the parties have already established an understanding beyond words.One reviewer makes an insightful comparison of Joe to Camus’ Outsider. Indeed, rather than being portrayed as an irresponsible libertine, Joe is shown as a confused outsider, often driven by his own physical desire, but not entirely without sensibility. This persona is echoed by the title Young Adam, still young but post-Garden of Eden, tossed into a cheerless world and doomed to an endless exile. The acting is first class all around. McGreagor shows that he is made of sterner stuff than needed for a light-sabre-happy Obi-wan Kenobi or a love-sick Christian. Swinton works the layers of Ella amazingly well, first the passive, guilt-troubled wife (particularly at the second liaison when Joe breaks the lamp) then the liberated woman temporarily carried away with ideas of divorce and remarriage, and finally very quickly coming down to earth again. More easily overlooked is Mullan playing the cockolded husband, maybe not to the stupendous height of the gentleman at Camelot, but with his own grass-root poignancy. Mortimer’s role may not be as demanding as the other three’s, but her competent portrayal of Cathie’s endearing young charm is quite necessary to make Joe’s subsequent remorse convincing.Young Adam is not for everybody, but definitely a marvellous cinematic experience to those with the capacity to appreciate.
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User 1 Review:
Changing Lanes keeps you on your toes with a tense screenplay that does not let up until the final scenes when everyone is tidied up a little too well after all the chaos that ensued. Samuel L. Jackson is terrific as usual and rides the line between doing what he needs for his family and crossing that line. Ben Affleck is better in these roles than he is in the action role, playing a hotshot lawyer that realizes all the unethical crap he pulls will eventually catch up to him. I was actually expecting this to have more action than it did based on the title and previews, but I'm not complaining when it was this well done. Ultimately, the only knock I have is that the conclusion is a little too easy based on the rest, but Changing Lanes will keep you guessing and is entertaining.
User 2 Review:
Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson square-off in the intense and dramatic thriller Changing Lanes. After leaving the scene of a traffic accident, a lawyer ends up embroiled in a feud with the person that he hit in order to recover an important file that he left at the scene. The story is remarkably engaging and has layers of subtext, as the grudge match leads both of the main characters to learn things about themselves as they push each other to the limit and find out how far they're willing to go. Affleck and Jackson give excellent performances, and are backed by a strong supporting cast that includes Amanda Peet, Toni Collette, and William Hurt. An incredibly powerful film, Changing Lanes takes a provocative look at the darker side of human nature.
User 3 Review:
Obviously everyone else was watching a completely different movie! There was no sympathy to be had for Ben Affleck as he would do something cruel to S Jackson then try to redeem himself after. Uh, sorry...too late! Kudos to Samuel L. Jackson for doing his best with a less than stellar script. Every character could have fallen off the face of the planet and I would have felt no sympathy. Even pissed me off that Samuel L. Jackson's character would even care about Ben Affleck as every turn Jackson made was to his ruination due to Ben Affleck. Don't bother watching...I already wasted my 1 hr 38 min for you.