Review: Enys Men (2023)

The trailer is not representative of the actual experience of the film. So feel free to check it out but just know going in that Enys Men carries the trappings of a horror – and it is at times legit frightening – but that’s not all there is. Mark Jenkin is a Cornish film-maker and Enys Men is his second film. I kind of can’t stop thinking about it. I reviewed for Ebert.

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4 Responses to Review: Enys Men (2023)

  1. mutecypher says:

    A reference to Gaia and a poem about lichen…. I’m in.

    I don’t know how much further you want to go down the rabbit hole, but Merlin Sheldrake’s book Entangled Life has a good chapter on lichens. That book, and Gaia, got me started on growing mushrooms. Need a new hobby? ;-)

    • sheila says:

      Yeah, I have no room for a new hobby. Or a new book. But a quick Google detour was fun! and I love Jane Herschfeld so it was fun to find that poem too!

      I really loved this film. will be curious to hear your thoughts!

  2. mutecypher says:

    I was hypnotized by this film. In a good way. And drawn in by the editing – what should I be seeing on that hillside as the camera zooms in? What is inside the broken window of the church? Is the surf running backwards? I liked The Wicker Manesque(ish?, ly?) camera work. And I liked the looping back of things like the name of the boat – was that the boat from 1897 that inspired the plaque on the quay, or was it a 1973 version of the same name? The voices on the radio repeating what the botanist said, or was it her repeating from the radio. And the pop radio report talking about a statue having been defaced that commemorated an event from 50 years earlier, on May 1, 1973. While she was taking notes on April 27, 1973.

    At one point I felt like there was a riff on 2001: A Space Odyssey, what with the obelisk/tall rock, the young woman, the botanist, and the baby all being the same person at different times. Dave Bowman watching himself age and then be reborn. As ghost story.

    The film was just very evocative of time and place and compulsion.

    Also, that poem you found was beautiful.

    • sheila says:

      So glad you watched! The film has really stayed with me.

      I like the comparison to 2001 – I had the same feeling. Like, what IS that rock? is it really there? is it a magnetic force? or some kind of supernatural tuning fork?

      I noticed the same thing in re: time. The dates in the book, the radio broadcast – the sense that all this was repeating – and she seemed to be in one time, but it almost seemed like she was reliving a former time. or leading up to some cataclysmic event everyone knew about. It made me think a little bit of Picnic at Hanging Rock – even though the styles are totally different. Just this sense of mystery, of haunting – of something unbearably ominous. All of those long long zooms were so eerie! and the sudden cuts – where it looks like there’s another person in the room, or on the roof – it’s SUCH effective filmmaking.

      This was filmed during the initial height of the pandemic. I read somewhere too that they went into filming with a conscious plan to reduce their footprint as much as possible – to not disturb the natural environment (the way film crews often do) – to keep their presence as mimimal as possible. I really admire that.

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