The Horror of Alex Garland’s ‘The Man’ Wasn’t Enough

Recently, when I walked into a movie theater, I felt hopeless. In this total darkness surrounded by strangers is the potential for poetry and challenge. Cinema, at the pinnacle of its power, is not just a physical, aesthetic and visual experience, but a spiritual one, and writer-director Alex Garland has lived up to my expectations before.As a fiery, closed screenwriter Sunlight and zombie papers 28 days laterGarland experienced the ecstatic wonder of genre fiction before turning his attention to directing with slippery and imperfections ex-mechanic. That 2014 sci-fi movie was both fascinating and frustrating until 2018 annihilate Garland was able to create a very complex work with cinematographer Rob Hardy and stars including Natalie Portman. In its body-warping scenes and its formal experiments, is a story of depression and loss. Garland and his collaborators found a way to subtly convey these ideas without forgetting the repulsive joy that can be found in horror.

This is the balance Garland seemed to forget when making his latest feature. men A simple, stripped-down film, it focuses on Harper (Jesse Buckley), a widow caught up in the tangled emotions of her husband James (Papa Essidu)’s death. Harper seeks healing by renting a 500-year-old bucolic estate in the English countryside run by Jeffrey (Rory Kinnear). The unease soon settled down. When Jeffrey saw Harper take a bite of an apple from a tree in the front yard, he scolded her harshly, which was taken as a joke a moment later: “No, you can’t do that. Forbidden fruit” – a brief interaction, established The religious currents that emerged from the movies. Visiting the facility’s bathroom, Jeffrey orders, “Ladies, watch what you flush.”

Harper’s sanctuary soon devolved into repeated violence, all perpetrated by men, all played by Kinnear. She was followed by a naked man who tried to break into the estate, a crime ignored by incompetent police officers in charge of the investigation. An adolescent boy asked her to play hide and seek, then called her a “stupid bitch” when she refused. We also get a detailed look at her final moments with James; in flashbacks, the picture of a relationship defined by abuse begins to merge.

The scene now is vibrant and verdant to the point of garishness. Scenarios set in the past take a different approach. In the apartment Harper shared with her husband, the lights were downright apocalyptic, with oranges, marigolds, crimsons heart-wrenching. In his small role, Esidu was asked to play a desperate mood-manipulating note. James warns Harper that if she divorces him, he will kill himself, as she wishes. Once his violence turned physical, Harper only became more determined. Now she is haunted by his death and the shattered body he left behind. A barrage of questions weighed on her mind: Did he slip off the upstairs neighbor’s balcony after breaking into the home? Or did he want to kill himself? Exidu’s character is barely drawn to the power and influence of his violence, giving the film a disturbing undercurrent of race. His body is a scary place. His soul and interior are nowhere to be found.

We don’t know much about Harper either: she works in finance (maybe?), plays the piano, and has a charming friendship with a woman named Riley (a sly Gayle Rankin), who Talk to her on FaceTime as her life journey enters unfamiliar and unfamiliar territory. But Buckley pointed to the tricky confrontation that had Harper terrified and fought for survival into overdrive. She tried to hide the memories just to get them roaring back – deep breathing, then ragged, and then crying after the flashback got her into a warlike mood. It’s a clear rendition of psychological distress.

Kinnear has the daunting task of embodying misogynists of all kinds separated only by their clothing, horrible hairstyles, and sometimes even outrageously large teeth. In his early scenes as Jeffrey, his condescending color has been nagging. At one point, he played a teenager whose face was digitally transplanted onto a child’s, and his voice changed slightly. It didn’t quite work, and Kinnear was at his best as a gray-haired priest who first offered comfort to Harper and then, when she opened up, blamed her for James’ death. The film is at its best here, with a grotesque portrait of contempt for women with dangerous desires. As the film reaches its climax, Harper finds himself living in the manor’s red-walled bathroom with the repulsive priest, her fears and his sexuality evident in the blocking and framing. The possibility of mass sexual violence hangs in the balance. holding a knife. Blood poured out. You could almost feel his breath on her face, her pulse quickening.

The tension and weirdness of Harper’s situation develops into an exaggeratedly sensual ending.However, despite all the broken bones, vivid deaths and a lot of blood, the driving philosophy behind men Not brave enough to feel intimidating. Instead, it’s pretty tepid. Garland makes misogyny lifeless, reduced to a primal problem, not a contrived one. Prejudice is seen as a constant, forever replicating itself in new forms; the characters in the film are read as banal ideas, not people. in many ways, men Built on an understanding of the modern “prestige” horror preferred by production company A24: it should be more than grotesque – it should have a message, often bluntly.message behind men The equivalent of “Damn, misogyny is crazy, right?”

Still, the film is handsome and reunites Garland with cinematographer Hardy and Jeff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, the people behind the film annihilate Fraction.I also admire menThe effort to weave together primitive pagan imagery, though it proves to be more of a style of finding meaning, keeps slipping from the filmmakers’ fingers. There is a stone basin in the church in the town. On one side is carved the face of a man with a leaf as a face, representing the rebirth known as the Green Man. Another is carved with the image of Sheela na gig, a naked woman with outstretched legs and an exaggerated vulva. Scholars debate the meaning and purpose of the Sheela na gig: Does she offer protection from evil, or a warning against evil? It doesn’t matter. Although these stone sculptures are vibrant in real life, they turned out to be nothing more than clever decorations for the movie.

menThe ending is marked by extreme levels of violence and gore, involving the destruction of flesh and expectations. It should be chilling, even jarring. Instead, when it pulled out, I felt apathetic and alienated. A horror film doesn’t need a grand message, political or otherwise.but men Desperately trying to find one of all twists. What we’re left with is blood, cartilage, and tendons without a skeleton to support it.

view all

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *