These days, it’s almost impossible for anyone suffering a traumatic loss to be allowed the time and space to heal properly.
Harper Marlowe (Jessie Buckley) has just lost her husband to suicide, so she drives off into the timeless wonder of the English countryside to recharge her emotional batteries.
Unfortunately, her rural B&B is situated smack-dab in the middle of a metaphoric battlefield where she must face down unwanted masculine attention, principally in the form of Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear) her temporary landlord.
All of the men in the nearby village are hostile to Harper, including a priest who asks her if she’s figured out what sin she committed to cause her husband to kill himself.
And then there’s a naked wild man that lives in an abandoned train tunnel who awakens at the sound of Harper singing and begins to pursue her relentlessly, enchanted by her “siren” song.
Writer and director Alex Garland (Annihilation) continually jabs the audience with a stick, asking us to consider uncomfortable ideas, such as, “Should both partners in a bad relationship go down with the ship?”
Men is a typically prickly A24 Production, depicting a society inhabited by a single man (demon?) who comes in many different shapes, and sits in judgment of Harper, a modern woman that ought to be ashamed that her husband James (Papaa Essiedue) jumped out a window.
That suicidal act appears to function as a blood sacrifice, summoning the Avenging Man Spirit (Kinnear, who is brilliant) to punish his wife’s transgressions—namely wanting her own life apart from a dangerously unstable partner.
The finale of Men is a queasily edited body horror freak out that will probably freak you out. After that, you can start unpacking all the subtext. Take your time: there’s plenty of meat on this bone, and I highly recommend savoring each bite.