In 1955 Liverpool, John Lennon (Johnson) is a troubled 15-year-old, raised by his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George (Scott Thomas and Threlfall) without knowing that his wayward mother Julia (Duff) lives just around the corner. But everything's going to change, and while he tries to balance these parental relationships he's also discovering rock 'n' roll. He teams with his pal Pete (Bolt) to form a skiffle band called The Quarrymen. And interest in the band heats up when talented musicians Paul and George (Sangster and Bell) join them.
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In truth, Frankie's father is in Scotland, gravely ill. His life at sea was concocted by Frankie's mother, Lizzie (Emily Mortimer of Dirty Pretty Things), to keep the real, landlocked father out of their lives. We don't know much about Frankie's dad, only that he caused the boy's deafness and is so despicable that Lizzie, her mother, and Frankie raise stakes frequently to maintain their distance.
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The unimpeachable talents of Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan and Emily Mortimer go for naught in "Young Adam," a film of dark, disenchanting characters who tread water in moral ambiguity for 98 minutes.
McGregor plays Joe, a nebulous, failed beatnik writer who has deliberately dropped off the face of the earth by taking a grimy, hard-labor job, working (and living) on a cramped little coal barge that travels the shallow, narrow backwater canals of 1950s Glasgow. Vacant of disposition and void of moral fiber, he's become both a reluctant drinking buddy to his boss Les (Mullan, "Session 9") and an opportunistic lover to the boss's weary, vinegary wife Ella (Swinton, "The Deep End"), which soon upends all their lives.
Proving he hasn't abandoned his provocative sensibilities to Hollywood, McGregor makes Joe's soulless impalpability curiously absorbing in a performance full of furtive nuance and vague instability -- the signs of which grow as he finds a young woman's dead body in the water and director David Mackenzie slowly reveals that his protagonist may have had something to do with how she got there in the first place.
Continue reading: Young Adam Review
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