Men (2022)

Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Paapa Essiedu, Gayle Rankin,
A young woman goes on a solo vacation to the English countryside following the death of her ex-husband.
  • 6.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2022-06-26 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Alex Garland, Director:
  • Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich, Producer:

Trailer:

4 / 10

What in the ****-ing ****

I'm a huge fan of writer/director Alex Garland. Annihilation is one of my all-time favorite movies. And I love Sunshine, Ex Machina, Dredd, Devs and 28 Days Later. I saw this movie on opening night on his name alone. I did not watch a single trailer or read any reviews. I didn't even know what it's about. (This is the best way to watch a movie)

To my dismay, this movie doesn't work for me at all. It's extremely slow with very little happening for most of the movie. I spent the majority of the time trying to figure out what was happening or what kind of story was unfolding. I impatiently made it to the end, hoping the movie could be salvaged. Instead I was given some of the weirdest stuff I've ever witnessed in a movie, and not in a good way. The best word to describe my feeling was befuddled.

The movie overall is competently made with good directing and performances. But there isn't enough story or substance to balance out the abstract and metaphorical. I compare it to Annihilation which was juicy with metaphors and symbolism, but was also filled with story and substance. And while both movies have scenes and images that I've never seen or even imagined, the ones in Annihilation mesmerized and terrified me, while the ones in Men made me raise an eyebrow and say what I wrote in the headline.

Alex Garland is now 3 for 4 in the director's chair. I should stop hoping that every new director prodigy will be the next Christopher Nolan with almost every movie being amazing. It's not reasonable. I should expect misses like Men. And I still look forward to seeing more from Garland. But I can't like a movie if after I've watched it, I have no idea what I just witnessed. (1 viewing, opening Thursday 5/19/2022)

4 / 10

A kiddie pool that thinks it's deep.

I'm a fan of Alex Garland's previous films; I liked Ex Machina and I loved Annihilation. With Men, he lost me.

The film has a monstrously effective first 30 minutes. The characters are introduced with airtight exposition and riveting dialogue. The atmosphere is developed with gorgeous, haunting cinematography that envelopes each scene in dread.

After this near-perfect first act, the film falls flat on its stupid face.

The artistic presentation remains technically gorgeous throughout, but any sense of narrative cohesion or character consistency is thrown out the window in favor of the simple rote routine of throwing strange metaphorical imagery at the screen and having our protagonist run away from it while avoiding doing something rational...

Over...

And over...

And over again...for about the entire second half of the movie.

The story reaches its thematic heights about halfway through and then Garland has nothing else to say, so he keeps hammering in the exact same overly simplified message of "misogyny being passed down via cultural acceptance through generations" with increasingly bizarre imagery that deflates any sort of tension or sense of true danger.

To top off the insult to the audience's intelligence, the movie ends with a line of dialogue that gives us the exact same message we got in one of the film's first scenes.

This is a movie that is almost an hour longer than it needs to be. It's so convinced of its own intelligence, yet so shallow and stupid, lacking any sense of nuance whatsoever.

Do you, like 99.9% of western people, believe that hitting women and emotionally manipulating people is bad?

Congratulations. You're smarter than Alex Garland thinks you are, and I saved you 100 minutes.

6 / 10

Simultaneously too much and not enough

The climax of "Men" has a certain sequence that can only be described as grotesque - it was a real labor of love, if you will (read between the lines, my friend). And seeing this specific scene take up the entire width of the silver screen in extreme closeup was not something I particularly expected, or wanted, to see in theatres. However, in a weird way I admired this film for throwing caution to the wind - "Gosh darn it," this movie seems to say, "You'll watch what I want you to watch, and you'll like it!" And so I didn't mind the initial sequence, until director Alex Garland portrayed it three more times.

"Men" is simultaneously an exercise of too much and yet not enough. Because when Garland goes for it, he really goes for it; throwing everything and the kitchen sink at his audience in terms of visuals and sound design, on one hand this movie satisfies on a purely primal level. Crisp, bright colors permeate this movie, and coupled with the booming and borderline intrusive score, you have something that your eyes and ears will happily soak up. And in fact, from the moment this film started I was immediately in awe of just how good it looked. But on the other hand, all the visuals and sounds in the world can't make up for a poor plot, and "Men" has a poor plot.

Well, let me backtrack. The plot isn't inherently poor - actually, it's pretty interesting. Starring the beautiful Jessie Buckley as Harper, "Men" follows her as she retreats to a vacation home in the English countryside after experiencing a personal tragedy. Things just seem to go from bad to worse for poor Harper, though, as she soon stumbles across a town where the men look strikingly similar. It's an intriguing premise, especially since the film employs a heavy use of emotional dramatic tension to drive the story forward. You'll find yourself invested in the puzzle that's being put together before your eyes, and engaged in Harper's story and the very human drama that comes from it. And with this expert combination of horror and drama, "Men" seems to make you a promise of a satisfying conclusion. And would you be surprised if I told you that "Men" doesn't deliver?

Looking past the striking visuals, euphoric soundtrack, and Oscar-worthy acting from Jessie Buckley, you have yourself a movie that lacks development. Too long on the draw, the movie takes its time in setting up its main character. In doing so, the film becomes, primarily, a character piece with thriller elements to it - in fact, the horror doesn't really kick in until the latter half of the movie. This wouldn't be a bad thing if the movie actually had a satisfying story that tied the drama and horror together in a conclusive way, but it doesn't. Instead, "Men" feels like two separate movies: a study of grief, and a home invasion thriller. And to be honest with you, the purely dramatic sections of this movie were my favorite simply because the horror elements felt like a narrative afterthought.

Sure, you'll get all the suspense and bloodshed you want out of this type of premise; you'll also get a stunning lack of explanation as to why what's happening is happening. Actually, strike that. You will get an explanation, one that you'll find in one of the laziest cop outs for an ending that I've seen in quite some time. With the subtlety of an atom bomb, the ultimate reveal is uncreative to the extreme. Put it this way: I had my suspicions that the movie would go in the route I thought it was going in, and when my suspicions were confirmed, I couldn't help but groan.

"Men" crumbles under its own weight with a unique premise that the filmmakers, clearly, didn't know what to do with. A lack of satisfying narrative development means that "Men" doesn't wholly succeed as either a drama or a horror film. However, it's so well acted, so pretty to look at, and so nice to listen to that I can't outright reject this movie, because I will certainly be watching this again at home one day. My recommendation? Give this a watch solely for its sights and sounds, and temper your expectations in terms of its storyline. Doing so, you may find just enough to like, but not enough to love.

4 / 10

Could've been great, but is completely incomplete

First off, let me say, that was the strangest ending to a film I think I have ever seen. How this movie got an R rating is beyond me because it is graphic! Secondly, what the hell did I just watch??? The movie was going so well for the first hour or so, beautiful cinematography, a sweeping sound mix and some very brilliant acting and writing all around. But then things start to get... weird. It completely loses it's footing and the film turns into what I can only describe as the worst allegory for depravity and misogyny I think ever put to film. It just didn't make any sense and the more I think about it, the less sense it makes. There is no outright conclusion, only a bunch of nonsense thrown at you in hopes that you'll think it's cool, but it comes off as pretentious and pandering. I would've loved to know what happened afterwards, but alas the movie is unfinished. If you do go to see this one, be prepared for an ending that will either leave you gagging or wanting. It really leaves nothing to the imagination and everything to your imagination at the same time. I only recommend it for the strong acting and beautiful camera work, but other than that, the film falls flat on it's face in the last half hour. 2.5 birthings out of 5.

1 / 10

They can afford to pay for review deleting?

I left a detailed analysis of this film and why I disliked it. It was very thoughtful and had nothing to do with a mysogyny or feminism take or any of that stuff or anything that could be construed as offensive, just disliking how obvious the film was. Surprised at the deletions lately, I wonder how much they pay for it now on this site. Anyways, it was bad, can I say that?