Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

No Men Beyond This Point, or: No One Wants a Picture of a Man Hanging Over the Fireplace

This week’s film is a perfect example of humor that may be less than amusing after tomorrow’s election.  And another reason we deserve a simultaneously laughing and crying emoji for the world we live in.  Until then, we do what we want.  That’s right–it’s another free-for-all month.

The Film:

No Men Beyond This Point

The Premise:

This mockumentary-style film examines gender roles in an alternate history where men are no longer needed for reproduction.

The Uncondensed Version:

As the story unfolds, we follow Andrew and the women he works for.  The last man ever born, he is a second-class citizen and is relieved he is employable as essentially a mother for several families.  One of the women comments she acknowledges that convention cautions against having a man around to negatively impact her children, but she chooses to rise above this generalization.  At the same time, his maternal role is much better paid and more appreciated than women doing this work.  Glass ceiling/escalator again, eh?

To understand how this state of affairs came about, we learn about events around the 1950s, when a record number of women reported virgin births.  One of my favorite things about these sections is they are frequently narrated by a men’s history expert, who is, of course, a woman.  The social commentary is strong with this one.

A woman is interviewed in an empty lecture hall. She is identified as Ajala Bhatt, Professor of Men's History at Oxford University.

A former academic is interviewed and gives the expert opinion that there was only one explanation—all of these women were lying.  Later, tests are developed to support the stories these women tell, but initially they are shamed.

As time passes, the number of virgin births means both a dramatic increase in the female population and the undeniable fact that men and sex are no longer needed for reproduction.  Social progress is rapid–the first female president is elected, men are sent to live in separate sanctuaries, and all women’s menstrual cycles are synchronized, necessitating a monthly holiday.  Men, of course, are extremely resistant to the changes and hold a few whiny protests to demonstrate their displeasure.

Men chant angrily at a demonstration, holding a banner that reads "Male Liberation Organization."

There are down sides to this–the government stops pursuing the space program (which was played for humor, but still felt like a bit of a stretch), and women are discouraged from forming romantic relationships.  While there are still some women having sex, the stereotype of women not having a sex drive is reinforced in this version of the future.  Sadly, this man-free future is not the utopia I need it to be.

Returning to Andrew’s story line, we find one of his employers, Iris, expressing interest in him as a man.  She has painted just a few detailed portraits of him and is constantly watching .  Iris tries to brush off her work as not a big deal, claiming “no one wants a picture of a man hanging over the fireplace.”  Lines like that make this film.

A woman wearing a shirt with paint streaks stands in a studio in front of several portraits of a man.

When Iris and Andrew pursue a sexual relationship, they are shunned and Andrew sent to a sanctuary for men.  As one woman puts it, “Of course, there are still women who are attracted to men and don’t want them to perish, but they are a small part of the population.”  Coincidentally, women who don’t want men to perish make up a small part of my friend group as well.

Will Iris and Andrew shake up the new status quo, or is their relationship doomed to fail?  Maybe a bit of both?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

The premise is stellar, but the execution is a bit lacking IMHO.  I’m just not overly taken with mockumentaries as a whole and wanted more time for character development and for the stories to weave together more smoothly.  The dialogue is excellent, though, and so sharp.

I will say this: I really feel like watching Pleasantville now.  But maybe an alternate version where all the men get chased out of town at the end.

Would Christa want this film to perish or would she allow it to live its final days in a peaceful sanctuary?  Read her review here to find out here!