It was not listening to Jesse Buckley, but her observation that gave her the lead role in the film “Men”.
Talking to director Alex Garland about his heady idea of fighting masculinity and its fundamental myths and malicious cycles in popular horrors, Buckley caught him by surprise: she started talking about the metallic taste of blood and how a character might feel about it. It was amazing, unusual and perfect, he thought.
“It was a pretty abstract way of thinking. It was also a very clear way of thinking, ”Garland said. “I didn’t try to guess either me or an invisible person who could observe and evaluate the conversation. It was very unrestrained and very instinctive and it just talked to me. I thought, “Oh, we can work together.”
For the “Men” to work or at least not be conservative or boring, which is his biggest fear, he knew he would have to make big, weird moves. After all, “Men,” which opens exclusively in cinemas on Friday, is a film based on the ancient images and symbolism of the Green Man, a historical symbol of rebirth and regeneration, and Shyla-na-gig, a carving of a naked woman with an exaggerated woman. anatomy.
He knew Buckley was a great actor, but it was a meeting of feelings that made her right. She was making a primal cry in church that would eventually become a note in a real score, throwing out her own ideas and trying wild things that she knew would probably end up on the floor of the closet.
“Alex puts a place where anything is possible,” Buckley said.
Garland has been thinking about the concept for many years. He wrote the first project some time after writing “Sun” and will come back to it again and again. Sometimes the themes even got into his other films such as “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation”. Although toxic masculinity is a modern phrase, this concept is anything, but Garland wanted to do something that it recognized.
But the “Men” did not unite until he brought it to the simplest form: a woman, Harper (Buckley), had just experienced a traumatic experience and personal loss and went to an English village to stay in a 500-year-old estate. There she encounters various men, all of whom are played by Rory Kinnear. There is an aggressive child, a misogynistic vicar, a benevolent homeowner, a policeman, a bartender, several townspeople and a deep fryer who seems to be following her. As the film progresses, her personal security and search for peace are attacked both subtly and invisibly.
Every time Kinnear appeared on the set as another character, Buckley said there was always a shift in the air. When Jeffrey’s homeowner was there, it was “party time”. When the vicar came, “there was ice.” Kinnear is not a method, so by itself he did nothing, but for the actors and the film crew it was a profound experience. Helped by the fact that between tense takes was easy.
“Rory is probably the funniest person I’ve ever worked with, and it was a complete tonic,” Buckley said. “If it was someone who was incredibly serious and difficult before that, things would be completely different.”
Garland has turned to many of his frequent employees to help revive the world of “Men,” like production designer Mark Digby, set designer Michel Day and cameraman Rob Hardy. Garland feels that he is always asked to present to the world some kind of lie as the public face of the film, and he wants to pay tribute.
“Everyone overestimates directors,” Garland said. “I am constantly rewarded for what I have nothing to do with. So many things that feel like directing in a movie are Michelle Day. Sometimes people will talk about how I designed the frame, but it’s Rob Hardy who designed the shot. There is a phrase that is often used: “So and so persuaded the performance of such and such an actor.” I don’t think I have ever wanted to speak. “
But, Buckley noted, someone has to lead.
“You need someone to set that tone,” Buckley said. “I’ve worked with directors who don’t. They do not create a space where there is a collective conscience.
Garland does just that, she said. It was this synthesis that the audience fell in love with in films and shows named after Garland. The ideas and images in his stories, even the ones he just wrote, are guaranteed to hover in your head for days. And often there is a significant song in the choice of which he admits.
“Men” begins and ends with two different versions of Leslie Duncan’s 1969 “Song of Love.” At first this is a version of Duncan. At the end – a cover of Elton John from “Tumbleweed Connection”. And it became a kind of metaphor for the film.
“I liked his impudence. Texts are texts that almost confuse people, ”Garland said. “They’re so simple and so simple, and they’re so true that it actually makes people feel a little uncomfortable. Or it makes a certain type of person uncomfortable.
“There’s a lot of opposition in this film to making people modest, not just doing something,” he continued. “The whole film is Shyla-na-gig. And I know some people find it confusing. I know this song confuses some people. I know the film will embarrass some people. But there is a subtext in this that simply says, “Overcome yourself.”
Follow AP film writer Lindsay Bar on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr