Men ★½

It is exceptionally difficult to tell a non-literal narrative and have it hold the proper emotional weight. The story here operates purely as symbolism, metaphorical and only that. While there are grounded moments of domestic drama and home invasion horror, many sequences only make sense on a symbolic level. The entire ending sequence had my theater mumbling and occasionally chuckling, the strangeness of the situation being so far from reality that there was no other emotional way to react to it. Buckley is a strong performer, but the way certain symbolic elements phase the character while others fly right over her head leave us with an inaccessible protagonist. There’s no solid entry point here, and the sparse plot of the film itself doesn’t make finding a way in all that temping.

This broad depiction of men as blaming women for all their sins since the origins of faith itself is both shockingly unsophisticated and constantly muddied by how poorly it ties into the actual story. There is a connection forced between the protagonist’s backstory and the film’s present day plot yet the two fail to meaningfully connect. Our protagonist is not plagued by guilt but haunted by the trauma of being abused, manipulated, and forced to witness something horrific; her being further tormented does nothing to evolve her mental state, but rather it’s just more needless torment. Nearly the entire film is her bearing witness to disturbing acts and words rather than doing much of anything herself. The religious basis confuses more than in clarifies meaning, and the shared identity/facelessness of her tormentors quickly becomes more of a distracting gimmick than meaningful tool. A massive disappointment coming from Garland.

Jacob liked these reviews