A24 has always been known for releasing weird and sometimes confusing movies. With Men, they might have gone the weirdest they ever have. Writer/Director Alex Garland has made some really interesting films with Ex Machina and Annihilation. Men is by far his most polarizing movie to date and it will leave audiences with tons of questions. But is it worth making the trip to the theater?
Men is a very intriguing movie. The script is mostly well written, and it is driven by a superb performance from Jessie Buckley. There are several metaphors and themes sprinkled throughout the film that really tie into the bizarre ending. One of the biggest themes is toxic masculinity and how that affects relationships. The way Garland demonstrates this in the script works well. There is also an effective commentary on the way society has some protections in place for men who physically abuse women. Several of the ideas in the movie work, even when the pacing gets a bit choppy despite barely running over 90 minutes.
In the past, Alex Garland has struggled with fully flushing out his characters. In Men, this is no different. Our protagonist Buckley is interesting enough, but the character development is still a bit thin. There is most likely a longer version of this movie where her and her husband James are dived into a bit more. If you take Men at face value, then you will have a better time with it. The sound design, editing, and cinematography are all top notch and that helps with staying engaged.
Men will be a divisive film amongst viewers. Some of that will depend on the type of mindset you have going into it and how you interpret what plays out. The ability to be open minded will go a long way as well, mainly because the ending is one of the most bizarre endings in recent memory. If you saw the movie Mother!, it might remind you of that in some ways. Leaving a movie open for interpretation can be a great thing, but Men doesn’t quite nail the ending enough for that to work. It’s a little too vague and it takes away from the overall experience. There are many aspects to pick up on and connect dots, but it will be too confusing and abstract for many viewers.
Whether you like Men or not, it says a lot about the writing to make the audience put a significant amount of thought into the movie after it’s over. It will have an impact on you one way or another. That is something Alex Garland has done with all of his films thus far, even if you don’t like his movies. They all are thought-provoking, though Men isn’t quite as polished as Ex Machina and Annihilation, which makes it his weakest film to date.
So, is Men worth checking out? It’s hard to say. If you like bizarre movies rooted in themes that commentate on societal issues, then you might get a lot from this. If you hate movies that end leaving more questions than answers, then this movie might not be for you. Men is the first movie of 2022 to be this polarizing, so you just have to ask yourself what kind of movie you want to go see.