Men ★★½

So 100 minutes of surreal imagery and foreboding atmosphere for the revelation are all the same?

Consider me underwhelmed.

I'm a fan of Alex Garland. I thought "Ex Machina" was excellent and "Annihilation" was very good. I was looking forward to this one and, again, I think the buildup is riveting. I was totally engrossed and wondering where this all was leading. Garland is excellent at fostering at atmosphere of slowly building dread. Jessie Buckley is fantastic as a woman looking to unwind in the country after a recent traumatic experience. I thought her reactions were very natural, even when the things she was reacting to were often anything but. Rory Kinnear plays multiple characters very well, getting a chance to demonstrate the range of his talents after being little more than set dressing in the most recent James Bond movies. The imagery was intriguing and unsettling (Gloucestershire is a gorgeous area, judging by this film).

But the film's final act takes a big, crazy swing that tips the entire film from unease into absurdity. This punctures the atmosphere (I was honestly cackling during the scene), employs some dodgy CGI that definitely doesn't help, and pretty much destroyed whatever point Garland was trying to make...which seems like it was just "Men Suck...and in a variety of Ways...mostly because of Lust" which, while definitely true, isn't exactly the most profound of statements and feels kind of disingenuous particularly coming from a white man. All of these are statements that I made about Andrew Dominik's "Blonde" as well but "Men" is at least better than that one because (A) it's more fantastical and not allegedly about an actual person who existed and (B) it's more batshit crazy and, therefore, more fun to sit through.

Watching "Men" is like observing someone making a delicious meal and then watching helplessly as they burn the absolute shit out of it. I was never, ever bored during this film though. I will give it that.

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