THE MISOGYNISTS Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Tony remembers the night everything went wrong.

2016 was, to say the least, a strange year. It was a year in which all the comforting certainties in which we lived, both in the US and in Europe, were ripped off (phrase used advisedly), and the cesspool of bitterness, racism, sexism, misogyny, lies, betrayal, hypocrisy and simmering hatred within all our shrivelled, calloused hearts was unleashed and sent to work, to drive us over one of any number of cliffs.

All the years since 2016 have sounded the same. Trump won, Brexit won, all the concerns of those hard done-by rich white men that had been apparently ignored for all that time, or poor white men who weren’t racist, but… have been paraded as if they were real things, rather than prejudices given political punch, and have had to be taken seriously because we believe numbers have meaning, irrespective of the direction in which they’re expressed. Meanwhile women, people of colour, minorities, gay people, trans people, and everyone with a bleeding heart (or indeed a functioning sense of compassion) have seen their voices shouted down, their rights reduced, their lives imperilled, and every dinner table, every bedroom, every canteen has been put under a Fifties-style moratorium – don’t talk politics, it just upsets everyone.

Because that’s where we are now – not so much the Age of Enlightenment as the Age of Upset. The right gets upset if you suggest its concerns aren’t valid, the left gets upset in any number of startlingly fragmented ways as its members seek to out-care each other and intersectionalize their woe to the point of ultimate pointlessness. And meanwhile the Idiot Genius rules over everything, using the poor, rewarding the rich, and continually giving the finger, if not the full-on pussy-grab, to every decent principle he can find.

If this is not quite what you were expecting from a geeky film review, two things: firstly, you really haven’t been paying attention lately, have you? And secondly, more importantly, I say all this because The Misogynists is a movie that sounds like every conversation of the last three years that breaks free and gets held around those dinner tables when Uncle Chet comes over and there’s just no way to head him off at the pass. It’s a movie for people who want to listen to political conversations, who want to engage with the other side of the argument, who want to be challenged and revealed and find themselves shown in their darkest moments, their sharpest crises, their hidden prejudices. Ultimately, it’s a film for all those people who are not yet exhausted by it all.

While the film is written and directed by Onur Tukel, it’s a movie for people who like David Mamet – full of words, full of opinions and revealed personalities and encounters and clashes, it would work on stage, but is given an extra spin on film by the mostly insular setting of a hotel room on election night 2016, with two Trump supporters celebrating the surprise win of their candidate. One of them, Baxter (Lou Jay Taylor) is shabby, married and has cheated on his wife, while the other, Cameron (a name that could have been especially chosen for a UK audience), played by Dylan ‘William H Macy’s Evil Cousin’ Baker, is divorced and has an unhealthy fund of internalized misogyny to spew out at the world. Is it stereotypical to suggest these are the only types of people in the world who could actively cheer a Trump victory? Why yes, yes it is, but that doesn’t largely matter – this is a polemical film, but it shows wherever possible the worst of everyone and that’s probably not by accident, as though the dawn of Trump brought out every poison from every heart in the country.

There is much pro-Trump opinion spewing from Cameron, who regards the victory as the only thing that will stop a tide on ‘enabling women’s neediness and stealing our freedoms,’ while Baxter, much more equivocal, is occasionally harangued on the phone by his wife, Alice (Christine M Campbell) who is weeping at the Trump victory and demands he come home – thereby adding fuel to the fire of Cameron’s arguments that Baxter is under his wife’s thumb and made to feel ‘unreasonably’ guilty for his infidelity.

As the night moves on, and without for the most part changing the setting, various other voices and viewpoints are brought into Cameron’s increasingly drink-fuelled, cocaine-fuelled bubble-rant world, the hotel room in which he’s been living since he split from his wife (it’s never of course stated that it’s a Trump hotel, though it seems like a natural choice, given his support of the man). There’s a woman of colour next door who complains about the noise of his ranting and gets sent away with a flea in her ear, and who rants herself about ‘crackers’ taking over the country and ‘black power’ taking on this particular idiot, while her white husband argues with her about the flammability of her phrasing. There’s a mutual friend of Cameron and Baxter who pops over to see them, (Matt Walton as Grant), and who tries to talk some sense into the pair, while also revealing Cameron’s history of sexism in the workplace, refusing to hire or promote women who were more than qualified. Grant, he tells us, voted for Bernie – though his vote in the general election is never revealed. A server from Virginia brings them some room service, and Cameron won’t rest until he winkles out the man’s family history in Mexico. The server, it turns out, and most of his friends, didn’t vote. ‘So you voted for Trump,’ says Cameron with a knowing grin.

Perhaps most telling though are the sex workers.

Determined to have a good night no matter what, Cameron calls a sex worker he knows, and gets her to bring a friend for the hang-dog Baxter. While charging double for the two-hour appointment, because who in their right mind and body wants to have sex with a jubilant client the night a man like Donald Trump is elected to power, Sasha (Ivana Milecevic) and Amber (Trieste Kelly Dunn) run the gamut before they go to Cameron’s room, talking about the rights and wrongs of bodily autonomy turned to sex work, the societal standards which mean Amber won’t tell her mother what she does for a living, but also the potential to establish their own autonomy through the work – Sasha has a ranch property in the mountains and a villa in France for which she paid cash as a result of the work she does, which is arguably a hell of a lot of autonomy, whereas Amber the questioner, who wants to invent something or market something or even go to work in a store rather than do the job that pays her hugely well, has little to show for it but a $40,000 impulse-bought couch.

In keeping with the film’s determination to show the worst impulses of all its characters though, they get into a fracas with a Muslim cab driver en route to the Trump-triumph gig, over his wife’s wearing of the hijab, with Amber ultimately yelling that he’s a terrorist. Before we get too firmly on his side though, it is he who initially butts into their conversation while they’re in his cab, to tell them they should get other jobs because in his country, sex is something sacred. See? Plenty of opinions, very little that shows people in their best light. You’ve really got to want to engage with this movie, but in itself, what it does is show the degree of freedom with which we fling our views at people these days, the moment there’s anything in their make-up that triggers our outrage-radar. The cabbie throws them out of his cab for disrespecting his prophet. Amber yells the lazy terrorist stereotype at him because he holds to the Koran… It’s like social media writ large and in the real-life moment.

And yet, when they reach Cameron’s room, there’s a sense of intensified perspective. While initially, Sasha and Amber decided to go through with it, because $3000 each for two hours’ work is absolutely not to be sniffed at, while they’re out of the room, Cameron, revving up Baxter for the debauch ahead, throws off the final cloak around his objectifying sexism and woman-hate, counting the ‘holes’ ahead of them and likening the women to a round of golf (an obviously significant sport, given the President’s business interests and in-office record of golfing breaks). The women leave. Some things are clearly worth more even than money to sex workers, some people too vile, too compromised and corrupted by disrespect to even touch with anyone else’s bargepole. They might have issues and get into screaming matches with intrusive cabbies, but even they still have standards.

There’s a device throughout the movie where the hotel room TV occasionally flashes on, and shows a range of footage running in reverse – an electronic prophet of regression, of backward motion towards negativity, the past, you name it, the TV’s a mostly mute commentator on the events of the night, and this is ultimately the tone and message of the piece – everything begins running backward, everything begins going in the direction opposite to positivity and progress on that night. There is, also, a gun – because of course there is, it’s a party to celebrate Donald Trump. By the end of the movie, that gun becomes a central prop to the drama, as more and more people line up at Cameron’s door to tell him to leave, to tell him his credit’s run out, his views are objectionable and loud and causing a disturbance among the staff and the guests. Outside his door though, the movement to get rid of him breaks up into intersectional outrage – who’s going to tackle the coked-up right-wing maniac in the room, who hates men, women, weakness, freedom-stealers, the state of the country he claims to love, while he’s sinking into a pit of wallowing rage and narcissistic, misogynistic self-loathing and fury? The opposition to him, to his rants, his violence, his hatred, is enormously busy out there, defining exactly why they hate him, and what they can safely call him, and who among them is just as bad as him for saying what they say about him, and yadda yadda yadda…the noise floor elevates as his opposition talks itself into irrelevance, while inside the room is the man with the hate and the coke and the whiskey and the gun, going ever more desperately mad and wanting to do something spectacular – there’s a climax to the movie which we’re not going to spoil for you, but it feels distinctly like a potential prophecy of the future of the man in the White House himself. Hate has to go somewhere, has to do something or it festers. The question ultimately is whether it goes inside to self-destruction or outside to something worse.

The Misogynists is an exhausting, very ‘talky’ movie, a tour de force of point and counterpoint which mirrors all the conversations America and the world has been having since that election night in November 2016. You’ve got to be distinctly into that kind of conversation to really get the most out of it, and there’s every chance that if you are into it, you’ll find the worst of yourself shown and to some extent parodied as the movie goes on. Dylan Baker particularly makes the movie throb with sickness, hate, casual sexism and rage, in a way that anchors the whole experience in a character you want to see fall – you want to see him fall as an avatar of the man whose election he’s celebrating, because Cameron brings some (though only some) of the worst elements of Trump and his supporters to the screen. Ultimately though, the conclusion is more in the line of ‘a plague on both your houses’ for delivering a reality where Trump could be elevated to the seat of ultimate political power in the world. It’s a movie that refuses on any level to fictionalize the situation – Trump is named throughout, rather than given an alias. And while it never dares claim that each side is as bad as the other – it would be farcical to do so - it does acknowledge the petty prejudices, the intersectional dispersal of impact, and the easy conclusions of the left, as well as the bubbling loathing of the Trump supporters. It’s a movie that will give you your fill of political debate and stoke your sense of absolute injury that Trump and his followers were elected, but it will also make you look at your own glass house with a tad more honesty and perspective than you might be used to.

Tony lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at

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