Original title:Men
Director:Alex Garland
Running time:100 minutes
Release date:20 may 2022

Mulder's Review

"This project deals with subjects that have been close to my heart for a long time and some of which I had evoked in my previous films, but this time I wanted to make a film in which one can recognize oneself as much as possible, where the spectator is an actor of the story. Then, I let people make their own idea of the film and the themes it deals with - or not - and that touch them ". - Alex Garland

After two outstanding science fiction films Ex Machina (2015) and Annihilation (2019), we were eagerly awaiting the new feature film by writer and director Alex Garland and we must admit that this one surprised us and left us hungry. By wanting to change the genre and propose an old-fashioned horror movie close to the atmosphere of an episode of the Fourth Dimension (Twilight Zone).  By minimizing the action and offering a real claustrophobic cinematographic experience, Men is certainly similar to folk horror and shows a real will of the director to create an unrealistic and horrific atmosphere. 

Harper (Jessie Buckley) is a young woman who has suffered a personal tragedy. Her husband has committed suicide by jumping out of their apartment window. In order to cope with her grief, she decides to retreat to an isolated old house in the English countryside in a small village to give her life meaning. However, what might have helped her get through her grief will plunge her into a disturbing world in which a person (a naked mental patient) seems to be watching her and wanting to harm her, a disturbing child seems to have a deranged mind, a vicar accuses her of her husband's death, and the owner of the house in which she is staying makes surprising remarks. What is even more disturbing is that all four men look alike.

While the current horrific cinema tends to play to overkill, Alex Garland's new film seems to pay homage to the classics of the 70s and 80s and we will think in particular of the films of David Lynch, James Carpenter (The Thing) and David Cronenberg (for its last part which does not hesitate to play the card of unbridled visceral horror). However, it's the last part of the film that in a way harms the efficiency of this film as the work on the sound is crystalline and the interpretation of Jessie Buckley is powerful. While we still remember Ari Aster's excellent Midsommar (2019), Men proves to be less impactful and would have benefited from having a less contemplative and faster tempo. Far from the classic home invasion and film based on a hostile environment. Certainly the use of slow motion, sound (especially for this memorable scene in a tunnel) and the music of Ben Salisbury, Geoff Barrow destabilize the audience and disturb us by plunging the heroine into a waking nightmare. 

Men succeeds however where the cinema often leaves us perplexed by proposing us a surprising film like a roller coaster that we will take and capable as well to make us afraid as to surprise us. Far from the consensualism of the majority of the current cinematographic productions, Men shows that the independent cinema remains the only one able to play with the rules imposed by the structure of a cinematographic work too often conceived as a marketing product devoid of a true glance of a director. The last part with this scene close to the universe of HP Lovecraft would have deserved to be better brought to gain in efficiency and not to break the rhythm of a disturbing and effective film.

Written and directed by Alex Garland
Produced by Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich
Starring Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear
Cinematography : Rob Hardy
Edited by Jake Roberts
Music by Ben Salisbury, Geoff Barrow
Production company : DNA Films
Distributed by A24 (United States), Entertainment Film Distributors (United Kingdom), Metropolitan FilmExport (France)
Release dates : 20 May 2022 (United States), 1 June 2022 (United Kingdom), June 8 2022 (France)
Running time : 100 minutes

Seen on June 10, 2022 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 8 seat A19

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