Let’s talk about men.
Men stars Jessie Buckley as Harper and Rory Kinnear as just about everyone else. Harper is trying to heal from her fiance James’ suicide (Paapa Essiedu) and is going to remote British cottage to mourn. Upon arriving, she eats an apple from a tree without permission (looks like the religious symbolism is showing…) and meets the caretaker Geoffrey, who is odd but seems harmless. After he gives her the most awkward tour ever in film she thinks she’ll get to relax… nope.
The film is a highly symbolic film where the various types of men in the world can inflict discomfort or violence upon women. Having Kinnear play every part shows that one type of misogyny is linked to every other form. How one type of danger can breed another is explored, quite literally. I know this film got blasted as being too woke, which is a term I’d love to hear someone actually define, but honestly, if you’re identifying with any of the men in this movie you may want to look at yourself.
Shot in a strange mixture of highly stylized and purely natural, the film has a dreamy feel that allows the tones to shift and the natural world to somewhat slip away. Where rules of the real world start and end aren’t entirely clear here and this uncertain feeling works for the narrative.
Jessie Buckley is an excellent actress who shines once again in an off-kilter film about relationships. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a fantastic watch if you haven’t seen it already. Kinnear deserves a lot of praise here, too. He can play harmless to absolutely terrifying quite easily.
We have a series of lengthy sequences where Harper encounters different men. A scene in a church is particularly powerful, and we see how quickly danger can appear for a lone young woman. The directing is interesting, and if you’re a fan of Alex Garland you will know more or less what to expect as far as style goes. I just wish we spent more time in these moments instead of speeding towards the ending.
Now, the elephant in the room: the last twenty minutes. I was reminded of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist quite a bit on this one, and an explosive and violent finale matches here. I’m not sure which one is weirder, well Men is weirder but Antichrist is potentially more stomach churning.
Anyway, I loved the ending sequence here. Not surprisingly, this is probably not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I thought it made the points it wanted to in about the most explicit way possible. You certainly won’t forget it.
One of the more interesting films of the year.