Title – Men (2022)
Director – Alex Garland (Ex_Machina)
Cast – Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Paapa Essiedu
Plot – Following a significant life trauma, Harper (Buckley) takes herself on a solo vacation to a seemingly quiet English village where she finds herself battling past and present demons in a way she could never have predicted.
“What haunts you will find you”
Review by Eddie on 19/08/2022
As an unashamed and vocal fan of much of Alex Garland’s work, I personally wish that I connected and better understood his newest low-budget dramatic horror/fantasy in a much stronger way, even if much of the directional and screenplay mastery the filmmaker has displayed in the past is still present in this curious and sure to be cult feature.
Taking things in a much different direction to his last few more Sci-Fi themed efforts Ex_Machina, Annihilation and the criminally underrated series Devs, Men is a slow burning folk-tinged fever dream of a horror that calls too mind genre classics such as The Wicker Man and the more recent Midsommar as Garland explores the grief of Jessie Buckley’s Harper, who thinks a nice quiet retreat to the English countryside will be the cure to her recent traumatic life experiences, only to find herself confronting demons from her past and some strange happenings in the village she has chosen to heal in.
Building nicely with a confronting and memorable opening act and racketing up the tension in the films early stages, Garland does a fine job with much of Men’s initial segments but too say things in his film get seriously weird, repetitive and sadly heavy-handed would be a massive understatement as Harper’s journey takes us down a route that culminates in one of the most outlandish and off-putting final acts in some time, giving Men an ending that will more than likely leave most wondering what on earth they’ve put themselves through rather than leaving Men wanting too know more.
You can see where Garland was coming from with many of his themes and explorations here and some of his metaphors and attempted analysis of toxic male traits, grief and acceptance are too be commended here, as is the directors ability to capture his story in unique ways with many scenes of Men some of the most visually arresting you’re likely to see in a film this year but there are too many hurdles Men stumbles over for it to be considered an outright success.
Some aspects of the film that succeed in an undeniable fashion however are found in the performances of Garland’s leads Buckley and the you have never seen him like this before Rory Kinnear, with both actors proving once more that they are some of the most versatile and reliable British performers working today with Buckley in particular delivering the goods around some material that would’ve likely tripped up many other actresses tasked with holding the fort.
Final Say –
A well put together oddity that is unafraid to take things to the extreme and not give an explanation why, Men is a curious detour for Alex Garland who despite this not entirely successful effort, remains one of the most unique and talented voices in the filmmaking world.
3 dandelions out of 5