Directed by: Alex Garland

Written by: Alex Garland

Starring: Jessie Buckley & Rory Kinnear

Rating: [3.5/5]

Nightmares in our sleep have a distinct sheen to them when we experience them a sense of reality does not exist. Those who are lucid dreamers can feel their artificiality of them and can tell when it’s time to wake up to get out of this situation. Sometimes you cannot put your finger on it but the distinct strangeness becomes off-putting to a strange degree. Men presents a nightmarish situation with plenty of strangeness to an incredible degree. 

Following the suicide of her husband, Harper (Jessie Buckley) decides to spend some time alone in a country house. After a strange interaction with the host, Geogrrey (Rory Kinnear), she enjoys what the countryside has to offer. Things begin to get even stranger when every man she runs into in the town looks exactly like Geoffrey to a disturbing degree. 

Only a few names excite me more when their next project comes out than Alex Garland, a brilliant science-fiction director that has produced two of my favorites of the century in Ex Machina and Annihilation. His style tends to leave plenty for interpretation and the man certainly knows how to dazzle in a visual sense with his projects. The ambiguity leading up to this film certainly proved to be head-scratching when it appeared most of the characters in the film have the face of Rory Kinnear. From older men to young boys to a strange degree. He sets up something nightmarish and what gets delivered certainly lives up to that adjective. 

Of the surprising aspects about Men as a film, comes from how straightforward the themes of the film prove to be. As Harper interacts with these men, they play onto the adage of “men ain’t shit” in the way they all interact with her. Some with disdain, others disbelief, but all of them have a strain of misogyny running through them as they interact with seemingly the only woman in town. This appears in various forms throughout the film but all of it feels far too straightforward for something written originally by Garland. Sure the ambiguity arrives with one specific version of Kinnear intertwined with nature, but all of it comes together in an ugly and messy bow on top. 

The best way to describe the overall mood of this film would simply be saying the title with a sense of disgust as that pretty much summarizes it all as the different men of this feature prove to be the worst in various ways. A culmination of disdain for women that unluckily all gets dropped on Harper as she simply tries to enjoy this time away following a heavily traumatic event. Garland pulls that into this hellish experience for Harper as it all gets tied together, which gets back to the best way to describe the film being what was said in the first sentence of this paragraph. 

Even with its thematic straightforwardness, Garland continues to prove what makes him an incredible visual filmmaker in crafting some elegant shots and his use of color. The richness of the greens in the forest pops out in such a beautiful manner in the film that contrasts against the dark red and brown interiors of the rooms. All of it feels lived in even if a bit off with a bunch of Kinnears running around wreaking havoc. This feature creates some undeniable imagery, especially towards the end where it creates something so shocking that you’ll not be able to take your eyes off it and remain stunned. This man surely knows how to navigate with monsters whether they be in our minds but also physically daunting ones meant to scare the lights out of us. 

It would be impossible to talk about this film without giving endless praise to Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear. Buckley plays the final girl of this story and captures everything she needs to convey the horror of this circumstance. She provides the innocence of her character in a meaningful manner that allows for all of the unholy nonsense around her to stick out. Kinnear gets tasked with portraying all of the men in this feature, which proved to display the many ways he can be a terrible person. Something he must be given credit for doing and he does it so well. 

Shocking in more ways than one, Men certainly does not measure up to the heights of Garland’s first two directorial efforts but the man has never let me down as he crafts a nightmare for the ages in this one. Something so visually creative even with its straightforward themes allows for a discussion of how we, as men, can definitely be the worst sometimes.

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