YOUNG ONES is an action science fiction film directed and written by Jake Paltrow (The Good Night, a 2007 romantic comedy film starring his sister Gwyneth Paltrow) that had its world premiere at 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The film, told in three chapters, which inventively layers Greek tragedy over an ethereal narrative that’s steeped deeply in the values of the American West, stars Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Elle Fanning.
The film 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. From writer/director Jake Paltrow comes a futuristic western,
When Ernest (Shannon) and his son Jerome (Smit-McPhee) use the last of their family’s savings to purchase a robotic mule to deliver food rations to a work crew drilling water wells in the mountains above their home, they never thought it would alter the course of their futures so completely. Enter Flem (Hoult) with his designs on Ernest’s daughter Mary (Fanning) and his hope to take back their land, which his father had once owned in the heyday of early 21st Century industrial farming. When Flem’s desires are actualized through his brilliantly managed lies and careful manipulations, a series of events are set into action that will alter their young lives forever and Jerome will be forced to make choices that no child should ever have to make.