Jeremy is a young man at college who thinks his life is on track, until his live-in boyfriend announces they’re too young for anything too serious and ends up moving out. Thinks look up when Jeremy meets Scott, with their flirtation developing into a full blown love affair.
Their happiness takes an unexpected turn when Scott starts exhibiting unusual, paranoid behaviour and slacking off on his studies. Jeremy initially doesn’t know what’s going on, until Scott is hospitalised and diagnosed with schizophrenia. The love between them is strong, but with both Jeremy and Scott’s parents questioning whether they should continue their relationship, and Jeremy coming to understand the difficulties of dealing with certain mental illnesses and the choices that need to be made for those who cannot fully make them for themselves, it’s far from certain their connection can survive or that they will be able to regain some form of normality.
There are few films, gay or straight, that take a serious look at mental illness, so it’s certainly good to get a movie that looks it straight in the eye, and also doesn’t suggest that someone can just take a few pills and it’ll all be sorted out. There’s a deeply personal quality to the movie, so it’s little surprise to find it’s based on a true story. The movie demonstrates real pain and longing, looking at the story through Jeremy’s eyes and seeing his confusion, guilt and attempts to get to grips with something he doesn’t fully understand. It also gives space to Scott’s story, showing how a man looking towards a promising career in engineering suddenly finds his life taking a difficult, unexpected turn that changes him profoundly.
However, there are times when it’s so focussed on Scott’s illness that it has difficulty bringing full depth to the characters. For example, although it’s clear Jeremy and Scott love one another, in the early parts of their relationship it’s difficult to see why they’re attracted to one another. It’s partly because everything is so serious, so that before Scott’s mental illness, Jeremy comes across as being a little flat and dull. There’s perhaps a sense that this is such a deeply personal story, that some of the things that may have seemed obvious to the makers don’t always fully come across to the audience in regards of who these people are.
Things pick up towards the midway point and beyond, when the characters have the opportunity to show a little more of themselves, although it certainly wouldn’t have hurt if Jeremy didn’t seem so glum. The film’s subject matter could easily have resulted in the movie dipping deep into melodrama, but it largely avoids that. It also carefully treads the line of dealing with mental illness, ensuring that it doesn’t suggest all mental problems can be dealt with easily with no repercussions or that on the other hand that there is no hope. It wants to say that for some people things such as schizophrenia can become a battle that at times they seem to be losing and at others winning, but that it will be a continuing struggle for true normality both for the person themselves and those around them.
It may not be a perfect movie, but it is so heartfelt that it’s easy to overlook its flaws. At its core there’s a pain and sorrow mixed with hope that speaks out above everything else and helps it succeed.
Overall Verdict: It’s a shame more films don’t a take a serious look at mental illness. A Young Man’s Future does just that and when its focussing on that aspects it succeeds, even if there are a few slaws around that.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac
A Young Man’s Future is available via these platforms: