No Men Beyond This Point
Directed by: Mark Sawers.
Written by: Mark Sawers.
Starring: Patrick Gilmore (Andrew Myers), Kristine Cofsky (Iris Balashev), Morgan Taylor Campbell (Dahlia Granger), Dakota Guppy (Ruby Balashev), Jill Morrison (Linnea Ruben), Tom McBeath (Jim), Malcolm Stewart (Senator Fitch), Mary Black (Helen Duvall), Ken Kramer (Gordon Trescott), Cameron McDonald (Darius Smith).
What would 2015 look like if, starting in the 1950s, women simply starting getting pregnant spontaneously – and within a few years that was the only way that they could get pregnant, and all the new children being born were girls? That is the premise of the mockumentary No Men Beyond This Point – and it’s a good premise. Unfortunately, the execution of the movie is not up to the premise – as the film takes the most obvious path imaginable, trading in stereotypes of both genders, and going for easy laugh line rather than actually explore its premise. I get it – the movie is a comedy, and isn’t make to be taken seriously, but the more I think about the film, the lazier it seems. If you’re going to take this as your jumping off, then I think you have to have more courage to actually explore it, and this movie doesn’t really do that.
The focus of the movie is basically on Andrew Myers (Patrick Gilmore), now somewhere in his 30s, and the youngest man on the planet. Most of the men still alive have gone to live in sanctuaries, where they are given a comfortable place to live out their days, away from female kind. The men that remain in society are treated as second class citizens, and are basically used for domestic labor. Patrick works for a couple of women, raising their children together. No, they are not lesbians, because bizarrely in this world, the ruling class of women are pretty much trying to ban all sexuality of any kind. They have also done away with the old school religions, and replaced it with some sort of nature based one. Oh, and women saw no point in putting a man on the moon, creating the internet or developing video games past Pong. And, of course, there is world peace. There are still idiotic Men’s Rights Activists, who want to see their gender restored to their “rightful place” as the dominant sex, but they are mainly placated at the sanctuaries with tenderloin. The women in charge – and seemingly pretty all much women – don’t seem to care too much that men are dying out. It was an act of nature, after all, and you cannot question nature.
No Men Beyond This Point is a movie that basically gets its view of the two genders from generic TV sitcoms, and that’s basically the level of the quality of the movie as well. It’s an occasionally amusing, not too painful movie to sit through – with a few decent lines and moments – but one that is also bland and forgettable. I wish the film had pushed itself harder – to really examine the alternate world in which it is suggesting – that afterall is what the effective “alternative” future/present works do – like Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America or Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle for example. Those novels created a world in which you can actually imagine exisiting. And that is where No Men Beyond This Point basically fails for me – that I could never see this world existing, even if you buy the basic premise of the movie. It is rather insultingly simplistic to both men and women, as it paints both genders as homogenous and unvarying, and doesn’t do anything to question the oldest stereotypes of both genders. There is a good movie to be made of the premise of No Men Beyond This Point – one that doesn’t just put a lot of stereotypes on screen. Maybe we’ll get that movie one day – but this one isn’t it.
Note: The film opens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. I saw it at TIFF last year, and I assume it’s the same version I saw there.