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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Review: Men

Director: Alex Garland

Screenplay: Alex Garland

Year: 2022

In one of the most challenging moments of their relationship, Harper's husband loses his life in a tragedy that now torments the young woman. In an attempt to heal his wounds, Harper gets a house in rural England, where he plans to spend some time. Through different men she meets around her, Harper seeks to overcome her fears, traumas, and sense of guilt about what happened to her husband.

With a title like the one it carries, I expected "Men" to be a feminist film that attacked the macho behavior that plagues the vast majority of societies worldwide. However, “Men” only does this sparingly and concentrates its efforts on bringing us a story about the trauma of losing a loved one. 

With the art style that distinguishes the A24 films, we follow the protagonist Harper through her mission to heal her trauma. The story unfolds over exquisite cinematography, dominated by long shots that seek to create a disturbing atmosphere. While many of these shots get the job done, they also affect the pace at which events unfold, and at times the time between major actions is insufferably long. 

To carry us through these bumps in development, we have the performances, which along with the cinematography, are the best that “Men” has to offer. Jessie Buckley's work as Harper is excellent, but Rory Kinnear (“Penny Dreadful”) is the one who stands out in this section, playing several characters with whom he does a great job and shows great versatility as an actor. 

Where “Men” can win or lose the viewer is in its symbology. Throughout the development, we see different symbolic representations of the trauma that Harper tries to overcome and the event that led her to this state, but in some cases, the symbology is difficult to interpret and seems more an attempt to be pretentious than to seek to explore the traumas. This symbology also serves to bring interesting and well-executed body horror scenes, but they become repetitive as they go by.

“Men” is an interesting exploration of the trauma caused by a tragedy and an abusive relationship and the protagonist's struggle to overcome her sense of guilt. This exploration occurs through many metaphors and abstract symbology, which gives it an air that is as artistic as it is pretentious, and in some cases, it seems to only focus on the latter and completely forget its meaning. If you have patience with its slow-moving stretches and repetitive cutscenes, “Men” delivers a compelling story with great performances, good special effects, and awkward moments of body horror in an aesthetically polished setting.

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