Our Take – Small Axe Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment
Cate Smierciak’s one room, one scene Men Crying is by no means a flashy film but its excellent production combines with an uncompromisingly uncomfortable script in order to showcase to us more covert forms of toxic masculinity.
Smierciak’s scenario is a regular of Hollywood’s, the sex scene. However, the post-sex malaise is something that never gets attention, let alone the issues raised in Men Crying. After finding out there were consensual issues with their encounter, the male character begins to crumble, mumble and generally deflate as he offers a profusion of excuses for his sexual assault. After failing in this, due single handedly to the female character’s uncompromising scorn, the man begins centring his emotional guilt above and beyond the trauma experienced by the woman.
Here, Smierciak uncovers a more covert form of toxic masculinity. Though on the front of it apologetic, the man’s centring of his guilt has the effect of silencing, making void the very real (normalised) trauma that women experience in sex. PTSD is what women will deal with, a bruise to self-perceived ego is nothing in comparison. The scene is truly cringeworthy yet is saved by the woman’s sharp dismissal of the man, a potential comedic relief.
Men watch! If you think of yourselves as standing for the safety and equality of all then stand back, listen and allow yourself to occupy the background.