Approaching toxic masculinity with Alex Garlands project Men
by Jaskiran Kaur | Thu, 28 Apr 2022 19:03:53 GMT
Rory Kinnear in 'Men' along with Jessie Buckley CREDIT: A24

Alex Garland is a phenomenal force in Hollywood who is extremely well-versed with his filmmaking style. Fluent in his art in two distinct ways, the writer described his style as scientific and large on one hand and described the other as "aggressive" and sensational. 

Films to fall under his first category of distinction include works like Ex Machina, his 2014 film that also debuted him as the director of the production. Another example is his recent work with FX which is a miniseries, Devs. 

And then there are films that are solely based on the pleasure of it and do not bother with asking the greater than life questions or worrying about answering them. These include works just for the sake of creating art and are more inclined towards the sensations and emotions these can arouse in the viewer thanking its imagery and filmography. 

Garland's new film, Men, is one such movie that leans strictly towards his artistic pursuit of filmmaking and includes the folklore genre of horror to push forward the narration of the film. Featuring anger and surrealism at its core, Men is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to filmmaking. 

Explaining his own viewpoint when it comes to his latest work, Men, Garland shared that he thinks the film takes strongly after works like Annihilation. Talking with Entertainment Weekly, he explained that the film revolves around how certain things make you feel as an audience member. 

The writer admitted that though he is proud of his works like Ex Machina, those films are stated at a deeper, intellectual level. Yet films like Men are more at the "gut-level" and he is incredibly happy with it. 

Men do not rely on a strong, star cast ensemble to propel forward its story. In fact, the film has only four people on its cast list. The lead of the story is played by Jessie Buckley, employed in the role of Harper. 

Men closely follow Harper, a young woman who has come to escape the horrors of her relationship and live it out on a  secret vacation somewhere in the English Countryside. The character tries to manage to live in the countryside but can not help recalling everything that went wrong in her life and relationship. 

A series of quick flashbacks introduce the audience to Harper's life and secrets along with the details of her estrangement from her husband who is still in London. The husband is played by Paapa Essiedu. 

Men are strongly visual when it comes to presenting the differences between the present-day life of Harper in the countryside compared to her life back home in London. It is easy to pick up the suffused orange undertone of the scenes when the lead character is facing flashbacks into her life, while the present life in the countryside features lush greenery and an open environment. 

The most stunning and confusing of it all is the red sheen that takes over everything when Harper is inside her rented countryside home. 

The distinctions between the colors of the scenes are a subtle hint for the audience that things have changed in the narration of the tale. The film is aggressive in the terms that the viewer is again and again forced to break his stream of thought and is pushed into new territory. 

The film is extremely delicate with its narration many times and includes a lot of goofy humor. And then there are also the shifting scenes that act as a propeller of action in the film. 

And then there is the matter of the film's title, Men. Totally appropriate considering the concerns of toxic masculinity shown in the narration. Masculinity has always been on the top of the head for Garland, who has explored the topic over and over again from the beginning days of his career as a screenwriter. 

His first major outlook on the topic was seen in 28 Days Later, a production that features the story of a world hit by a zombie apocalypse. The survivors find safety in a military camp but things start moving for the worse when the all-male survivors of the society begin tearing at each other's throats. 

Ex Machina, though the writer's attempt at posing scientific questions, is also about two male scientists who are engrossed in analyzing female robots. While their sole concern is to explore the benefits of the artificial intelligence that the robots would provide and yet they can not help but wonder about female sexuality, even if the concerned subjects are robots. 

On the contrary, Annihilation is another work by the writer, but this time it features a team of women scientists who are up against an alien world and need to find ways to habitat the place, a task that the men have failed to accomplish. 

Jessie Buckley amidst interior reds in 'Men' as a hint to the shifting scenes of the film| CREDIT: KEVIN BAKER/A24

He has used a lot of different narratives to embark on the topic and yet Men is much of a straightforward approach to the notions of toxic masculinity. It is highly concerned with the dynamics of male thought and how things work under the surface.