Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. The clammy power of Young Adam lies as much in the frank, emotional nakedness the actors bring to their roles under Mackenzie's care as in the baroque hopelessness of the plot.
  2. Reviewed by: Rich Cline
    This is a finely crafted film for grown-ups only ... and it's hard to remember the last time we had one that was this provocative and moving.
  3. 88
    This is an almost Dostoyevskian study of a man brooding upon evil until it paralyzes him.
  4. It's a movie drama with a surface so bleak and an interior so hot with eroticism that it twists your guts to watch it.
  5. 80
    The movie is another showcase for the underappreciated McGregor, who disappears into his character so discreetly that, even as his face lets us track Joe's every thought, you never feel you’re watching a Performance.
  6. Those seeking a spiritual counterpart to the yin of Lynne Ramsay's masterfully moody "Morvern Callar" will find their yang in David Mackenzie's exquisitely sorrowful Young Adam.
  7. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    All of the promise that was evident in Scottish helmer David Mackenzie's flawed freshman feature, "The Last Great Wilderness" (2002), is richly achieved in his second pic, Young Adam, a resonant, beautifully modulated relationships drama.
  8. Despite the flashback structure, this is a film in which mood matters more than plot, while the hero's heroic stature steadily shrinks.
  9. The film is set in post-WWII Scotland, but its tone and its telling are so stark, so Medieval, that it seems anachronistic when one of its characters picks up a telephone or plays a bebop jazz record.
  10. Rich atmospherics and an all-star British cast make this a superior melodrama if you can handle the heavy-breathing sex scenes.
  11. 75
    Not so much a thriller as an exploration of one man's crumbling moral compass.
  12. 75
    Besides terrific performances, it boasts terrific cinematography by Giles Nuttgens that contrasts stunningly beautiful and grimly ugly Scottish landscapes - complementing the hunky Joe's ugly soul, which manifests itself in a truly nasty sex scene involving pudding, catsup and Cathie.
  13. Also quite fine is the film's musical score from David Byrne, as unsettling and edgy as the story.
  14. Tilda Swinton's rich, compelling performance is reason enough to see this uneven picture, which devolves from a riveting romantic triangle to a morality tale without a moral center.
  15. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    This movie is so much the opposite of uplifting that you think Gary Oldman ought to be in it. But it's honestly made, and its second half does linger in the memory.
  16. 75
    Darkly effective, and its grip lasts longer than we might be entirely comfortable with.
  17. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    It’s rich enough in atmosphere to make you almost buy the quasi-allegorical absurdities.
  18. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    MacGregor demonstrates just how far he's come as an actor. Swinton, meanwhile, adds another notch to a resume already crowded with good performances.
  19. 70
    In this long, slow fall from grace, unceremonious nudity and half-hearted sex begin to look like a mockery of a paradise lost.
  20. 70
    Doesn't quite know how to take its leave; it tapers off like a curling cigarette trail, but it lingers like a ghost.
  21. Mackenzie has greatly tempered the story's brutality the old-fashioned way: He puts an appealing, sympathetic star at the center and surrounds him with beautiful visuals, with a darkly contrasting color palette of bruising black and blue.
  22. There are movies that are important, and then there are movies that simply look and act as if they're important. With its arthouse cast, hipster credentials and ominous atmosphere, Young Adam never bothers to reach for real significance.
  23. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Unfolds with an absolute minimum of dramatic highs and lows, and it's so disaffected that it prompts laughter at the wrong moments.
  24. All the actors give performances so low-key they're almost minimalist. That works, except when we're supposed to believe every woman would throw herself at the closed-off Joe.
  25. The narrative scheme, the brooding period atmosphere, the understated score (by David Byrne) and the precision of the acting also make the story seem more interesting than it is.
  26. Presents itself as tragedy with the insensitive Joe as its tragic hero, but Joe's fantasies of artistic rebellion and individualism have rotted into simple, solipsistic selfishness.
  27. In the Scotland of Young Adam, love is getting dragged through the mud.
  28. Reviewed by: Karen Karbo
    In this moody, claustrophobic almost-thriller -- the pacing is as sluggish as the Scottish canals that serve as its setting.
  29. It's a diversion, well crafted by Mackenzie from a book by Alexander Trocchi, but little more than that.
  30. A compelling if singularly sour tale.
  31. Suffers from a lifelessness that seems built into the terse, slightly detached style of the director, David Mackenzie, who also did the adaptation.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 8
  2. Negative: 2 out of 8
  1. MattA.
    Sep 26, 2005
    This is one of those films that you respect and admire more than you actually like it. I would not recommend this movie to 90% of the people This is one of those films that you respect and admire more than you actually like it. I would not recommend this movie to 90% of the people that I know, and I wouldn't want to watch this movie again. Why? First of all, Ewan's penis shot. Second, it is depressing and Ewan's character is a bastard. But, the film is actually so memorable and well-done because of Ewan's performance. It is probably his finest work to date, and for that reason (along with teaching a good lesson not to sleep around), the film works. Full Review »
  2. PilarJ.
    Aug 27, 2005
    The film doesn't have argument. Everything could be counted in two lines. A boredom.