Saturday, October 06, 2012

Men's Group - Movie

Back in 2009 I wrote on one of the other blogs I was then contributing to about an Australian movie called Men's Group.  
I hadn't been able to see it at that point, although there was a brief trailer available online, but it was getting rave reviews wherever it was shown - which, unfortunately, wasn't in as many places as it should have been.

However, it's now available on DVD, and I caught up with it last night.  In spite of the group hug that they're having in the picture in the poster, this isn't a movie about men getting soft with each other or even communicating very well with each other (I don't think they actually hug at any point in the movie itself).  It's about Paul, a facilitator who offers a small group of men the chance to come together weekly and talk, in his own home.  (His wife and family always spend Tuesday nights with his wife's sister - wisely.)  Five men attend regularly, even though all of them admit at times that they don't quite know why they're there.  A sixth participant comes for one highly emotional evening in the middle of the movie.

The men are: Alex, who doesn't think there's anything wrong with him, and can't see why his son doesn't fall into line; Freddy, who's separated from his wife and little daughter and is desperate for things to be right in his marriage again; Lucas, a dour, good-looking man who barely contributes, but whose private life (which we, the audience, are party to) is aggressive and violent; Moses, a man who wears a beany and a long black beard, both of which enable him to hide to a great extent; and Cecil, the oldest member, who gives away very little and seems okay on the surface.

Of course all of them give away a great deal more than they intend. The audience knows more about them - but not much more - and sees them in a slightly different light to Paul, whose relationship with them is restricted to the Tuesday nights.

There is some resolution in the story - one man manages to make headway in his life - but the rest are still either struggling, or unable to move, or perhaps on the cusp of change when the movie ends.  However, the filmmakers wisely haven't allowed their characters to have easy ways out, and we're left wondering how some of them will fare.

The film is intensely emotional, and will leave viewers - male and female - with many thoughts and responses.  Men definitely need to see it, but women do too - and their reactions will be different.   Christian viewers may want to ask about forgiveness and change in regard to the men in the story, but these guys haven't got to that point yet; the need for some level of self-understanding has to come before they can think of turning their lives around completely.

This is a brilliant movie that deserves a very wide audience, including those who wouldn't normally go to see it.

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