Man To Man (tbc)

Film image
John Maybury
Tilda Swinton

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byJennifer tate1/06/2013

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 72 mins

Tilda Swinton is fantastic in this one-woman performance in which she portrays over a dozen characters, but unfortunately, John Maybury’s experimental and pretentious film fails to translate.

What’s it all about?
Directed by John Maybury, Man to Man is a reworking of East German dramatist Manfred Karge’s play of the same name and stars Tilda Swinton as the sole presence portraying over a dozen characters, both male and female. Filmed in 1992 as part of the BBC’s Screenplay TV series, it first finds Tilda as Ella Gericke, a troubled woman whose husband dies shortly before World War II. Taking on his identity, Ella-now-Max begins work at his factory job and enters the world of men, guzzling beer ‘and bugger all else’, until her own identity becomes questioned and Ella doesn’t know who she is anymore.

The Good
Adapting to masculinity and the male body language with what looks like minimal effort, the young Tilda Swinton is undeniably terrific, demonstrating her acting chops to a fine degree. When she first appears on screen, it can be rather amusing and alluring to see her in such a raw state as she muses and rants in her various roles and the characters she portrays are complex and vitally realistic.

The Bad
Despite Tilda’s breathtakingly good performance, Man to Man just doesn’t quite work on an entertainment level and it can often be very challenging to engage with. After about five minutes or so, Tilda’s rants and tirades lose their edge and become increasingly annoying as the film goes on, to the point where it all becomes a bit headache-inducing. Maybury’s experimental visual style and blue screen method is also starkly unattractive to look at and the relatively short running time of 72 minutes drags by with the overall film feeling at least twice as long. As an art project, Man to Man is commendable, but as a cinematic experience, it has very little to offer.

Worth seeing?
It’s certainly interesting to see Tilda Swinton in such a raw and stripped-back performance, but unfortunately Man to Man is a trying and torturous watch and the only thing it’ll leave you with is a headache. Unless you’re a big fan of Swinton, try your best to avoid it.

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Content updated: 18/01/2020 10:53

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