Men's Green Man Design Left No Room For Compromise

Even the most ardent champions of filmmaker Alex Garland couldn't have predicted the directions that this year's "Men" would travel. The basic elevator pitch sounds simple and straightforward enough: the recently widowed Harper (Jessie Buckley) travels to the UK countryside in an effort to escape the trauma and loss of her husband's (Paapa Essiedu) death, which may or may not have been the result of suicide. Their final harrowing argument, full of vicious verbal insults and physical assault, ensures that Harper will remain haunted by their final moments together leading to the fateful moment. Indeed, once tucked away in the secluded village, all the men (all played by Rory Kinnear) in the area seem to bear the exact same face and treat her with a sort of barely restrained hostility. But by the time the third act unfolds as a prolonged home invasion tinged with elements of the supernatural, viewers would be forgiven for struggling to make sense of the disturbing and body horror-laced spectacle.

Not that Garland himself is giving anything away, as the ambiguity appears to be the point, but the key to unlocking at least some understanding of the fable would seem to concern the mystical Green Man imagery that crops up repeatedly throughout the film. Based heavily in European folklore, Kinnear's depiction of this overtly threatening figure posed a unique challenge from an acting perspective. But as far as the actual design was concerned, the director took full control over the look and feel of this character — fittingly enough, given that this concept has been rattling around in Garland's head for a decade and a half.

'Alex was absolutely driven by a certain vision'

Movie fans could spend weeks attempting to unravel the secrets at the heart of "Men," but perhaps no aspect of the film is more thought-provoking (or confounding) than that of the Green Man. Of all the characters portrayed by Rory Kinnear, it's clear that director Alex Garland paid special attention to how this figure came across on-camera. Kinnear explained the lengths that the filmmaker went to in an interview with Inverse, saying:

"The Green Man was the one character that Alex was absolutely driven by a certain vision. He was incredibly exacting about its look. He let me have the opportunity to flesh it out, to embody it — how he walked, how he behaved — but in terms of the look, it meant something incredibly powerful to him to the extent that for the last sort of stage of the makeup, he would do the makeup.
He had seen it so vividly over however many years that he's been thinking about Green Men, for about 15 years he has been trying to write about it in some way. That was quite something to see the level of care and concern he took over this figure."

For those not squeamish enough to look away from the screen during the final 20 minutes or so, the visual of one Rory Kinnear emerging from another in as disturbing of a "birth" scene as you'll ever see certainly left its mark on viewers. The attention to detail poured into the Green Man's design clearly paid dividends, extending even to the most minute aspects that may not have been easily noticeable, which this behind-the-scenes Instagram clip puts into even greater perspective.

We'll be thinking about the mysteries of the Green Man in "Men" for quite some time.