After ‘Ex Machina’ and ‘Annihilation’, Alex Garland is back with yet another visual challenge. ‘Men’ raises the bar higher than ever, with a unique story of grief and sexual power struggles that will both intrigue and frustrate equally. And often both at the same time.
To film. That was all it took Alex Garland to gain a reputation as one of today’s most exciting filmmakers. In 2014, he debuted with ‘Ex Machina’, about a scientist who builds an extremely lifelike android. Four years later, Annihilation followed, about a female research team that explored a mysterious zone around a meteorite impact.
Garland, however, was far from a blank slate. As a writer, he immediately scored a huge hit with his first book, ‘The Beach’. He also wrote the script for the film version (with Leonardo DiCaprio) of the thriller about a backpacker who stumbles across a remote beach paradise. This was followed by scripts for the horror film ’28 Days Later ‘, the sci-fi thriller’ Sunshine ‘and the dystopian drama’ Never Let Me Go ‘. In each of these stories, Garland tackled solid human themes such as greed, faith, ambition, empathy, and the awkward relationship between women and men.
Questions of interpretation
The latter again forms the core of ‘Men’, perhaps the most challenging story the 52-year-old Briton has already come up with. Everything revolves around Harper (played by Jessie Buckley), a young woman who has traveled to a small British village to deal with a terrible trauma. She had tried to tell her husband that she would end their marriage. Not much later, the man lay dead on the fence of their apartment building on the Thames. Accident or suicide, Harper does not know, but the guilt is nonetheless overwhelming. In that village between the green, she hopes to calm her soul. But she primarily experiences more male resistance.
By and large, ‘Men’ seems to indicate that the troubled, tense and all too often violent relationship between men and women (or men versus women) is not coming out of the blue.
Alex Garland likes to put the audience to the test, and with ‘Men’ he does it more than ever. He grabs you by the neck with ambiguous and provocative themes and scenes, but he refuses to explain from needle to thread exactly what he means by that. He thinks it is better to involve the viewers actively in his films because they still interpret each story through their own personal experiences.
“I’ve met so many people who told me that a movie is definitely about a particular topic,” Garland explains in an interview with the American entertainment website Salon. “But what they really mean is, ‘For me, the movie is definitely about this subject.’ In the end, they say as much about themselves as they do about the movie. important in the world and how they handle it. ‘
In any case, in ‘Men’ he offers the audience a whole range of juicy ideas to get started with. For example, he has all the men that the protagonist comes in contact with in the seemingly peaceful village, played by the same actor (Rory Kinnear). In addition, Garland eagerly draws on anthropological and religious metaphors and symbols. During his walks, for example, Harper encounters images of a ‘sheela na concert’ and a ‘green man’, folkloric characters from the distant British past. The first is a female figure opening her vulva with both hands, the second a character with leaves and branches like head and beard hair.
Their precise meaning has faded over the centuries. The film is an impulse to give it a contemporary interpretation. One of the theories is that the ‘green man’ symbolizes rebirth and the cycle of nature, a concept from which the film distills a directly mindless climax. At one point, one of the men also quotes verses from Yeats’ poem “Leda and the Swan”, an adaptation of a Greek mythological story in which Zeus seduces (or rapes) a beautiful woman in the form of a swan.
By and large, ‘Men’ seems to indicate that the troubled, tense and all too often violent relationship between men and women (or men versus women) is not coming out of the blue. It is a game of power that continues from generation to generation and is not usually communicated verbatim. Garland is not sure if we can ever get out of the perverse cycle. But one does not quickly forget the way he converts the hot topic into images.
‘Men’ hits theaters this week.
- After ‘Ex Machina’ and ‘Annihilation’, ‘Men’ is the third feature film by British filmmaker Alex Garland.
- It’s about an astonishing fable about the relationship between men and women, alternately terrifying and grotesque.
- The focus is on a young woman who, after the death of her husband, goes on holiday to a small village in the countryside and is harassed there.
- Garland refers to all sorts of sagas, stories, and characters to create scenes that are not easily forgotten.
- Because the film refuses to explain all the bite size, it keeps grinding through your head