Alex Garland’s forays in the literary and cinematic worlds mark him as something of an underrated player in the cultural sphere – a voice of generation X, if you will. As the author of seminal novel The Beach, a frequent collaborator with Danny Boyle, screenwriting films such as 28 Days Later and Sunshine, and a director of cult classics such as Ex Machina and Annihilation, there’s an understandable hype and some weighted expectation around his latest film Men.
Produced by A24, this folk-body horror follows Harper (Jessie Buckley), who, after a traumatic loss, visits the English countryside for a lonesome retreat. The out-of-sync village to which she arrives is populated by toxic reifications of different types of men – all played terrifically by the incredible Rory Kinnear.
Unfortunately, the film lurches between religious metaphor and comments on toxic masculinity with a schematic rigidness and predictability, all the while attempting to convey an air of profound abstractism which it doesn’t possess. Even the film’s wild third act seems to fizzle out. A project which is perhaps more at home on TV as a mini-series than the big screen. A real shame given Garland’s history.
However, Jessie Buckley is great in it and Rory Kinnear next level – take a bow! ★★