Jake Paltrow’s “Young Ones” divided audiences at Sundance earlier this year, but it’s possible a slow-burn, hypnotic film such as this benefits from being seen outside the hustle and bustle of a festival environment. But the picture has a lot going for it, starting with its cast. “Young Ones” stars Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Elle Fanning and Kodi Smit McPhee, and it’s been described as having western, Speilberg-ian and Bresson-ian undertones, which might make it the only film of 2014 to bear that distinction. It certainly sounds like an original mélange of influences.
The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic future where water is scarce and the environment has become a ragged, dusty wasteland. That’s an interesting backdrop, but film is also a chaptered triptych about patriarchs, and at the heart of this is a triangle between a father (Shannon), a daughter (Fanning) and a would-be suitor (Hoult). Here’s the official synopsis:
YOUNG ONES is set in a near future when water has become the most precious and dwindling resource on the planet, one that dictates everything from the macro of political policy to the detailed micro of interpersonal family and romantic relationships. The land has withered into something wretched. The dust has settled on a lonely, barren planet. The hardened survivors of the loss of Earth’s precious resources scrape and struggle. Ernest Holm (Michael Shannon) lives on this harsh frontier with his children, Jerome (Kodi Smit McPhee)and Mary (Elle Fanning). He defends his farm from bandits, works the supply routes, and hopes to rejuvenate the soil. But Mary’s boyfriend, Flem Lever (Nicholas Hoult), has grander designs. He wants Ernest’s land for himself, and will go to any length to get it.
Our review out of Sundance called the movie thoughtful and well-considered: “Exploring themes of blame, sin, guilt, lies and violence, [the movie] tackles notions of what our kin inherit, and the baggage passed down from generation to generation, Paltrow’s film is most effective when meditating on these textures, that take on the look and feel of Greek tragedy, while also investigating the classic western motif of revenge.”
The first clip from the movie has arrived, and you can watch it below. It gives a taste of the rivalry between Shannon and Hoult. “Young Ones” opens in theaters on October 17th. Check out our video interview with director Jake Paltrow while you’re at it.