It’s hard to criticize a movie like ‘Men’. Both for the work itself and for the visceral reactions it provokes and that they often object to the idea of hearing a different opinion. There are very few people to whom the news of Alex Garland it will seem lukewarm: not in vain is a conscious and extreme proposal which pushes the term “auteur cinema” as far as it can in the middle of 2022.
The director mixes the most beautiful formal scenes of this year (this moment in the tunnel as disturbing as it is bucolic) with some of the most grotesque (the last half hour, in which he dares with a change of tone and genre worthy of applause for his courage) in a film that has a lot to say and has decided not to stay in the middle ground. In a cinematic world increasingly on the road to safety, Garland decided to press the accelerator leaving all the victims that must be left on the way. And less badly.
oh so good so bad
the current billboard it falls more and more on sure values, on films with a checklist. You know that wonder will probably give you an entertaining and familiar movie, or that Pixar it’ll make you tear in increasingly mechanical ways, and that’s why the existence of A24 is so important and defining. It is impossible to guess what will happen on the screen after your logo, tone or sensations that will leave you two hours later. The production company has become synonymous with a way of approaching cinema that the majors have turned their backs on: the demand for mid-budget films with talents behind them who have something to say.
Obviously, A24 is not impenetrable and has made many missteps, but with every risk there are dangers. The main one, and which they seem to gladly accept, is not to please everyone. The production company actively avoids the mistake of wanting to please the so-called “mainstream” (which is becoming less and less) and hopes to find its slice of audience. With ‘Men’ they risked more than ever: the film, from start to finish, is an emotional catharsis in which, falsely falling into it, he flees the clichés with a very dark humor that accompanies the most traumatic images of the year.
There will be those who come out of seeing ‘Men’ saying that not all men are like that, or that Álex Garland wanted to please anyone, but the beauty of a film like this is that cannot be shipped in one sentence, it is also not easy or mandatory to have an exact idea of what you think after a few minutes. You need time to reflect, take stock, put in order what you have just seen. Instead of chewing the food, Álex Garland just gives you some ingredients and expect you to make the recipe yourself. There are those who are passionate about the challenge and those who end up frustrated that they don’t have an explicit solution to all of the film’s visual puzzles.
In the Garden of Eden, my baby
‘Men’ is hyperbolic, exaggerated, steeped in metaphors and touches on the dirty show beauty. And despite everything, starts relatively conventionalwith an aesthetic proposal close to folk horror, and which gradually falls into delirium aided by the multiplicity of Rory Kinnear, one of the most delicious visual surprises of the film.
Film by Alex Garland shows the trauma in an extreme way, without apologizing to anyone or feeling the need to water down their scenes to please people who never should. And he’s been doing it ever since the perversion of paradise, the progressive terrifying destruction from a perfect place, truly exploring not an English countryside cut off from the world, but inside Harper herself, filled with traumatic stereotypes that she herself must confront before she can heal. Trauma represented by a series of different men depicted with negative attitudes that are as obvious as they are real and undeniable.
A Garden of Eden in which Harper eats the forbidden apple and gradually transforms into a nightmarish world in which must face herself and her most unspeakable doubts, personified and verbalized (or not) with the voice of unknown and sinister villagers: the journey of ‘Men’ is an introspection, an overcoming of personal fears, a shock treatment. Anyone who thinks the movie is a straight line, give it a few spins.
We do not care
If you didn’t know Jessie Buckley for his incredible role in “The Black Girl” or in the fabulous and misunderstood “I’m thinking of quitting”here you have a new opportunity to admire his acting talent. A real festival where the film is made without artifice, carrying the film on his shoulders as if it were something simple. Yes “Men” is defined by many words, but “simple” is not one of them.as evidenced by the more than fifteen minutes during which no one utters a single word (and where, to tell the truth, they do not miss each other).
Álex Garland signs his best film by specifying that he is an author who does not like labels and that he doesn’t care what part of the public may think of his work. The truth is that ‘Men’ is a work of art, not perfect: aesthetically it’s a real beauty when it wants to be and an overtly grotesque movie when it needs to be, but instead of focusing exclusively on its overwhelming visuals, boasts it with a fabulous storyline open to interpretation (here I told you my point of view, but you can and should have your own) that deviates from your own expectations, whatever they may be.
‘Men’ knows this will cause controversy, but instead of trying to put out the fire, he douses it with gasoline. It is extreme, absolute, unique and indispensable in the this year’s cinema. It asks the viewer for an open mind and the intention to investigate beyond the mere text, but the reward is the pleasure of the most mature, interesting, intriguing, labyrinthine and intelligent film on the current billboard. Or you can think the movie is about all the guys being the same and quickly put it aside. The choice is yours.