Men Movie Ending Explained (What did the rebirths mean?)

Men is a 2022 psychological drama written and directed by Alex Garland, who brought us films like Annihilation and Ex Machina. The film is centred on a woman on a 2-week solo getaway at a village mansion to overcome a recent trauma. The cast has Jessie Buckley (I’m Thinking Of Ending Things) and Rory Kinnear in the lead roles. I’m sure you have many questions, so without further ado, here’s the plot and ending of the movie Men explained; spoilers ahead.

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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

Men Movie: Plot Explained

Men is a giant metaphor for PTSD due to toxic masculinity. Many of the events we see in the film possibly aren’t really happening; they only represent the turmoil inside Harper’s mind – a combination of her anguish, guilt, relief, joy, and sadness, erupting all at once.

There are a ton of ways to interpret this movie, but that’s the way I saw it. With that, let’s go through the plot linearly and try and label what is real and what is not.

Who is James, and what happened to him?

men movie: what happened to james

Harper is married to James, an abusive husband. When Harper tries to get a divorce, he threatens her, saying he’ll commit suicide and she will have to live with that in her conscience. One day, matters escalate when James punches Harper in the nose, and she makes him leave. James heads up to the above residents’ house and tries to climb back down to his balcony. In the process, he falls to his death. His ankle breaks and his hand is impaled by the fence.

We’re shown that James looks at Harper as he falls, and this moment continues to haunt her. My thoughts here are:

  1. This was an accident, and James didn’t plan to jump to his death; he only used suicide as a measure of control.
  2. James’ body is facing away from the building, but Harper remembers James facing him as he fell. It’s not too clear how he fully turned around as he hit the floor.

I bring these points up to indicate that Harper has possibly imagined the moment James stared into her eyes. The thing that haunts her probably never even happened. As she mentioned, it was all too quick.

What’s Harper doing in the village?

Harper has decided to spend 2 weeks in the countryside in a beautiful house to get away from everything. The owner Geoffrey gives her a tour of the place and jokes about her eating the forbidden fruit. Harper has quickly made herself at home as she’s looking to embrace the experience. That said, she’s still not changed her salutation from Mrs and retains her surname, Marlowe. Perhaps, she hopes this stay will help her move on.

Is Geoffrey a bad guy?

Men: Is Geoffrey a bad guy?

Not really. Geoffrey is a host trying to be nice. Though he assumes Harper is going to stay with her husband because of her ‘Mrs’ title, he immediately feels foolish for making that assumption. I also strongly think that Harper doesn’t meet Geoffrey again after this. After this, the horror that unfolds is the state of Harper’s mind, not reality. She’s not going insane but is going through trauma.

One point to note here is that Harper and her friend, Riley, make fun of how ‘country’ Geoffrey is, and Riley jokes about going Grouse Shooting with him. This scene gave strong vibes of city women ridiculing village folk. While Harper was abused, she isn’t all gold.

The Village Men Explained: What’s going on in that strange village?

Nothing is going on in the village. It’s an isolated place, and we are never shown its residents beyond Geoffrey.

Every other character Harper interacts with is played by the same actor, Rory Kinnear, who plays Geoffrey. This shows that based on Geoffrey, Harper has created various characters in her mind.

The Naked Guy – The one who scares her.
Vicar – Her guilt personified.
Samuel – A young boy who should have been innocent but isn’t.
The Cop – A person of authority who thinks Harper is overreacting.
The pub patrons – Normal country folk who turn aggressive.
Even the Bartender is the same person.

In summary, this little ecosystem of people is part of Harper’s mental turmoil as she fights her guilt. While as viewers, we find everyone to look the same, Harper never once notices this.

Men Movie: What does the tunnel scene mean?

Men: Tunnel Scene Explained

In the movie Men, Harper is suffering from PTSD and is unable to move forward with her life. She has suffered abuse in her relationship for long, but it ended with her husband dying. James manipulated Harper to feel guilt during their relationship, and now that he’s gone, her guilt has only changed form.

Before entering the tunnel, Harper is scared; as she passes through it, she plays with her echo (a reflection of herself). As she goes closer to the exit, she finds joy. Then suddenly, an unknown clothed man blocks the exit and scares her back. This is not the Naked Man. 

The tunnel is a metaphor for Harper’s path to wellness and happiness. The man represents all men who Harper feels are a roadblock to her happiness, pushing her right back into the depths of despair.

The Naked Man

Harper runs home and is followed by a Naked Man who tries to enter the house. We’re shown that Harper calls the cops, and they arrest the man. However, I feel this event never really happens. Harper is showing Riley the house, but we’re never told that Riley saw the naked man; she knows of him only because Harper tells her about the incident. Besides, the cop who she meets later isn’t real because he’s basically another man with Geoffrey’s face. So the way I see it, there is no Naked Man, there were no cops, there was no arrest.

The Church. The Carvings. Samuel. Vicar

Men: The Vicar at the Church

Harper visits a church where she sees Green Man and Sheela na gig carvings, which are associated with rebirth and recurring cycles. 

She runs into a young boy, Samuel, who demands she plays Hide and Seek with him, and when she refuses, he calls her a ‘Stupid Bi*ch’ and leaves. Samuel has Geoffrey’s face and is a persona in Harper’s mind. She imagines that even a young boy feels she is the horrible one even though he was the one with a demand.

The Vicar comes to her rescue and wants to hear her out. But soon, he too blames her for not giving James the chance to apologize and wouldn’t be dead if she had heard him out. Vicar is another persona with Geoffrey’s face and represents Harper’s guilt.

Men Movie: The Bar Scene Explained

Men: The bar scene explained

I doubt Harper actually went to the bar. Everyone in there was a person with the same face. Geoffrey is far less polite and demands he’ll buy her a drink. The Bartender doesn’t do anything odd, but he’s still got Geoffrey’s face. The two Geoffrey-faced patrons seem to be mechanically drinking like NPCs in a videogame. A cop with Geoffrey’s face shows up and says they released the Naked Man because they didn’t find any reason to hold him in custody. He is pretty condescending towards Harper.

In Harper’s head, every man is against her and blames her for her situation.

The Final Scene: The Men at the house

Harper talks to Riley back at the house and texts her the location. In response, she gets a text which appears to be from Samuel. This is not real, and neither are any of the events to follow. Soon there is movement in her front yard. 

First, the Cop stands without responding to any of Harper’s questions.

Then one of the bar patrons runs at Harper, screaming.

One of the windows breaks, and Harper sees a chair move.

Geoffrey enters the house and attributes the broken window to a crow which has broken its leg much like James did. He then goes out to see what’s happening and disappears. 

The Naked Man shows up and puts his hand through the mail slot on the door. Harper holds his hand. This scene represents Harper giving the thing that scares her another chance. Maybe this time it would be different, she feels. But the Naked Man grabs and pulls her hand forcefully. This talks about James’ abuse; he would scare Harper and then approach her in a subdued manner only to abuse her again – a neverending cycle.

The Severed Hand

Earlier in the movie Men, we know that James’ hand was impaled as he fell. Harper stabs the Naked Man, and he pulls his hand away, causing a very similar injury. Suddenly we see Samuel inside the house dry humping the dead crow, and his hands are slit. Harper runs away only to be chased by the other bar patron. Finally, the Vicar enters the bathroom and says he has sexual fantasies about Harper. He also states that it is her fault as it is the power she has. The Vicar compares her to the Sirens who lure men to their deaths. He tries to sexually assault Harper, but she stabs him.

On the road, she accidentally hits Geoffrey. He reacts violently by attacking and chasing Harper down.

Men Movie: Ending Explained

Men Movie Ending Explained

The ending of Men is a metaphor for the endless cycle of one toxic man creating (giving birth to) another. James is one such who claims that all he wants is Harper’s love, but he’s willing to beat it out of her.

The Naked Man shows up with the Green Man’s face, indicating the rebirth cycle. His hand is cut, and his ankle breaks like James’ did. He then becomes pregnant and gives birth to Samuel. Then Samuel gives birth to the Vicar from whom Gregory emerges. By now, you can see how Harper’s expressions have gone from ‘afraid’ to ‘I’m tired of this’. The last one to show up is James, who walks up to Harper and explains his wounds, making it sound like it is all her fault.

The horror of that final scene is a metaphorical presentation of the chaos running in Harper’s mind. She’s created a variety of personas who are all out to get her. This is the visual representation of her trauma.

Importance of the Axe

An Axe is one of the oldest weapons of war and symbolizes battle. Harper’s mind is fighting her guilt and taking back control. It’s not shown on screen, but in her mind, she destroys her assailants, including James. She’s taken the first step towards moving on.

What was real?

In a nutshell, the horror was not real, but somebody did get hurt, as there is a lot of blood on Harper’s clothes that’s not hers.

We earlier established that the horror was a visual presentation of Harper’s PTSD. But when Riley arrives, she sees the busted car, bloodstains on the floor and Harper’s dress. The damaged vehicle is real and was caused by Harper, for some reason not shown in the film. About the blood, I’d like to add an impressive speculation that cosgrovemanheart provided in the comments – perhaps Harper did hurt someone, and we’ll not know who or how; as viewers, all we got to see was metaphorical events play out in that house. The blood is real, so some living thing did get hurt, but we are not shown who or what, maybe Geoffrey, maybe another. Riley stares into the house, which I’d imagine would have furniture thrown around and broken glass all over. She then sees Harper sitting out on the lawn, smiling at her. The blood on Harper’s dress correlates with the point that Harper hurt someone.

Importance of Riley’s pregnancy

In the final scene, we are shown that Riley is pregnant. I would speculate that Harper wanted to have a child, but she was trapped in a toxic relationship with him with James. Perhaps James’ father was abusive too, and the son went down the same path. Or perhaps, the company James kept were abusive and reinforced his behaviour. As demonstrated by the horrific pregnant men giving birth to the other, Harper noticed an endless cycle of toxicity through family and friends. If she ever had a child with James, she feared that their kid (boy or girl) would eventually become abusive. Though Harper yearned for a child, she feared raising one with James. Seeing Riley pregnant gives hope to Harper that she too could one day be a mother and raise children in the right environment. One could also speculate that Riley is a to-be single mother, and Harper feels she too can mother a child with or without a father.

How did you like the plot and ending of the movie Men? Please share your thoughts and theories in the comments below.