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‘Men’: Movie Review And Rating

Robby Steven

‘Men’ is a 2022 folk horror film written and directed by Alex Garland. Starring Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear, ‘Men’ delivers a strong message about the effects of an abusive relationship, and the continuous cycle of abuse.

‘Men’ movie summary

I was fully prepared to hate ‘Men’ and cringe with a deep eye roll, but I found it effective and well done. The film becomes a bit too abstract in the third act for my tastes, but I get the message that Alex Garland was getting across.

A24 has been hit or miss for me with their horror entries from the get-go. However, I approach each film wanting to enjoy it, and that’s what I did heading into ‘Men.’ The film tells the story of a woman named Harper who rents a home in the English countryside after recently ending her relationship. She rents the home from a man named Geoffrey who, despite appearing a bit odd, seems relatively harmless. After going for a walk into the nearby woods, Harper sees a naked man in the distance. After shrugging it off and returning home, the man appears once again, this time in the yard of the home. The film continues to unravel as the line between reality and fever dream gets crossed leading to an uncomfortable but effective ending.

Acting and Directing

The acting from the small cast is solid, anchored by Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear. Buckley is likable in the role of Harper, as we feel closer to her with each unraveling flashback. Kinnear plays Geoffery and does so in an unsettling way because the character often feels harmless. Geoffrey first appears awkward and curious, as well as clueless and ignorant. It’s only as the film moves forward that we see what is back behind the curtain.

The direction by Alex Garland was impressive, as there were several moments of suspense that built up. One scene, in particular, concluded with a jump scare that admittedly got me out of my seat. Garland is relatively new to the director’s chair, with ‘Men’ being only the third film he’s directed. After critical and commercial success with Ex Machina and Annihilation, Garland decided to dip his toes in the horror genre.

The cinematography was handled by Rob Hardy, a frequent collaborator with Garland. Muted in darker shades of red, green, and blues, the look of ‘Men’ reflects the tone of the film itself. It’s dark and dreary, with a subject matter that many will become defensive to address and speak about.

‘Men’ movie themes

Social commentary was of course at the forefront. Many have mistaken this film as being “anti-men” or a typical feminist hit piece, but I didn’t see it that way. What I got out of men was themes of generational trauma that are not just isolated to one particular gender. The abuse one encounters in a relationship can live on long after the relationship ends. It can impact you physically and mentally, with the latter sometimes being the most damaging.

Ending: Spoilers

In the third act, all of the men Harper has encountered are revealed to be united as one isolated being. While never fully explained, this entity is a physical manifestation of Harper’s trauma stemming from her abusive relationship. Harper’s ex threatened to kill himself if she broke things off, and while attempting to reach her room, fell off the outside balcony to his death. Whether or not he meant to kill himself is left a mystery to Harper and the audience, and it’s what haunts her throughout the film. In the closing moments, we see the entity giving birth to each one of the men that Harper encountered in the film. This is an uncomfortable scene that seems to represent the cycle of abuse continuing with no signs of an endpoint. This is something that is important for everyone to understand and try to put a stop to.

‘Men’ movie: Final Thoughts and Rating

‘Men’ is a solid film that is not for everyone, but it should be. There will be people who are turned off by their preconceived notions of its social themes, however, that would be a mistake. ‘Men’ is not a story about the evils of the male gender, but rather about the cycle of abuse, specifically in a relationship. The perpetrator and victim of that abuse can be of any gender, with no one impervious of that trauma. Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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