Dir: Mark Jenkin | UK | 2022 | 96 mins
Cast | Mary Woodvine, Edward Rowe, Flo Crowe
Please note the screening on Thursday 9 February will be captioned.
Mark Jenkin’s follow-up to his 2019 breakthrough Bait – which delighted audiences and critics alike with its hand-crafted minimalism – is another boldly experimental work set against his native Cornish landscape, this time a kind of folk horror set on a remote island off the coast (‘Men’, pronounced ‘Mane’, means ‘stone island’ in Cornish). Like Bait, Enys Men is shot in 16mm and delights in the same rough textures, but instead of black and white, Jenkin has moved to rich, bold colours redolent of the designs of the year the film’s set in: 1973.
An unnamed woman (Mary Woodvine) lives alone in a cottage on the island. She’s researching wildflowers at the cliff-edge, inspecting their condition daily and logging the results. Each day, she drops a stone into the abandoned tin mine; each night, she listens to a transistor radio and reads an urgent tract about the dangers facing the environment. Her only visitor is a local man who delivers petrol to her – but soon, she begins to be plagued by visions of other people, places, and disturbing incidents of various kinds. Are they real? And if not, do they flow from the past, present or the future – from her memory or her state of mind? An eerie, uncanny study of interior disquiet, Enys Men explores how when we are completely alone – with no phones to distract us – we are entirely at the mercy of our memories, dreams and fears. Filmed on location around the disused tin mines of West Penwith and almost dialogue-free, it’s also a meditative ode to Cornwall’s rich folklore and natural beauty.
“A supremely disquieting study of solitude” ★★★★ The Guardian
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