Men ⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
A young woman goes on a solo vacation to the English countryside following the death of her ex-husband. Out in cinemas.
There’s always a bit of me that feels a bit stupid whenever I get to the end of a film and realise that I have not really understood it. Most of the times, I resent it for making me feel that way.
Men is one of those films.
Directed by Alex Garland (author of The Beach, screenwriter of 28 Days Later and Never Let Me Go, among the others and director of Ex Machina), Men is clearly some sort of provocative metaphor on misogyny and “toxic masculinity”, but beyond that I wouldn’t be able to tell you what actually happened.
Jessie Buckley, who has already proved her acting skills in The Lost Daughter, playing a young Olivia Coleman, is the young woman at the centre of this story. Her sheer presence, with both her strength and fragility carries most of the film.
She plays Harper, a woman constantly misunderstood, threatened and pushed to the brink of madness by a series of ‘men’ who all look the same and all in a way or another seem to represent variations on the same danger.
There’s a policeman, who turns out to be not as helpful as one would wish, a naked stalker, possibly harmless, but still terrifying, a vicar who behind the appearance of a kind man is all too quick to judge and blame Harper for her abusive husband. And so on…
Men is steeped in unsettling and eerie images which makes it all look more like a nightmare than anything that resembles reality and yet, the film seems to be saying “this is reality”, at least for Harper (who obviously represents many other women).
While all this plays out, the soundtrack is constantly filled with weird sounds, drones and horror-like effects, which enhance the sense of dread and fear.
A lot of this is mesmerizing, incredibly creepy, a bit disturbing and, while possibly a bit heavy-handed, it would be quite effective if it weren’t so impenetrable.
I’m sure Men has very valid and interesting messages about the relationship between men and women, particularly in this day and age, but to be completely honest, aside from raising the issues, I don’t really know what else it is actually trying to tell me.
Without giving too much away, the finale explodes into pure hallucinatory horror, with gore and rather explicit special effects.
I can see what Garland is trying to do, but by that time I was more confused and much too bored to be impressed or shocked.
An interesting exercise, but possibly more suited to a short film format than an actual feature length.
But then again… I might be a bit stupid, so don’t take my word for it.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick
Men is out in cinemas.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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