Men Review by Tim Nasson

May 19, 2022

If watching “Little Britain” while on an LSD trip sounds like something you’d enjoy, then “Men” is the movie for you, without the LSD. It is the most bizarre, utterly incomprehensible movie since “Eraserhead”. But, like “Eraserhead,” it hooks you in the moment it begins and doesn’t let up until the end.

“Men” is written and directed by Oscar nominee Alex Garland, whose “Ex Machina” (2014) catapulted the career of Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, who played an AI with human qualities. (Vikander won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar that same year for “The Danish Girl”).

“Men” begins with Harper (Oscar nominee Jessie Buckley “The Lost Daughter”) dealing with her mentally ill, violent and mentally abusive African husband (Paapa Essiedu) whom she wants to divorce. After he beats and bloodies her, she throws him out of the apartment. What transpires next forces Harper to reexamine her life.

Needing to find some peace and solitude and get a grip, Harper decides to rent an Airbnb, albeit an Elizabethan manor home, in the Hertfordshire countryside. From the get-go alarms start to go off in Harper’s head. The owner of the Airbnb, Geoffrey, (Rory Kinnear) – a doppelganger for the character Lou Todd on “Little Britain” – is a little too polite, giving Harper a tour of every room in the house. He practically has to be thrown out.

After deciding to go for a walk in the forest surrounding the estate is when Harper realizes all is not normal. Her trek begins innocuously. Traipsing through an ancient tunnel she begins to hum in order to hear her echo. At one point she unleashes a series of words and a hum, which never seem to stop echoing. This is such a serene place, it just may be the place for her to gather her wits. However, at the end of the tunnel appears a shadowy figure. Upon returning to the country house the same man is standing in the yard – in his birthday suit. It turns out, he is homeless and perpetually walks around town naked.

It seems Harper is not going to get any peace. One unsettling encounter leads to another. In addition, she encounters a crazy policeman, a vulgar vicar, a churlish boy, a barkeep, and a pair of farmers. No women, only men. All of the men are played by Kinnear.

Things just get crazier and more bizarre. Is Harper dreaming? Or is she hallucinating? Is it a science fiction film or a horror film? Or is it all a metaphor? If the sight of an alien exploding out of John Hurt’s stomach made you wince, what will you do when it’s time for a baby to be delivered… out of a man?

When a nude man gives birth to a male baby (that turns into a full-grown man within seconds), who then at once gives birth to another male baby (that also turns into a full grown man), who then gives birth to another male baby – this goes on for many minutes – we still have no idea where Garland is taking us. And your eyes will never forgive you.

Rob Hardy does a superb job with the cinematography. He outdoes the work he did on “Ex Machina” and “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”. The production design by Mark Digby (“Slumdog Millionaire” and “Ex Machina”) is spectacular.

Through all of the insanity and horror Buckley proves herself as one of the most capable living actors. In anyone else’s hands the Harper character most likely would have come off laughable.

While not as accessible – or enjoyable – as “Ex Machina,” “Men” will undoubtedly please Garland aficionados and everyone who likes movies as incomprehensible as they get.

Grade: C-

“Men” Review by Tim Nasson

Men Official Trailer

Men Review by Tim Nasson Posters and Photos

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