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film review

In the hot, dry world of Jake Paltrow's dystopian western, Young Ones, the characterizations are as sparse as the desert foliage.

Each of three chapters in this stylishly empty saga is named after a character: Ernest Holm (Michael Shannon) is a former alcoholic whose recklessness left his wife a hospitalized paraplegic. Now he sells moonshine to the scary gangs of pipeline workers to support his two teens, dutiful Jerome (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and wayward Mary (Elle Fanning).

When his donkey gets hurt, Ernest buys the film's most intriguing gadget, a robotic mule, which resembles a hybrid of a shopping cart and a mechanical locust.

Chapter two is about a nasty usurper, Flem Lever (Nicholas Hoult), who marries Mary. The final chapter focuses on Jerome's discovery of Flem's treachery, which could have made a juicier movie title.