“Women have no scruples. We — we can be blackmailed by our consciences.”
When an advertising executive (Heiner Lauterbach) discovers his wife (Ulrike Kriener) is having an affair with a bohemian artist (Uwe Ochsenknecht), he assumes a new identity and moves in with Stefan (Ochsenknecht), determined to learn more about why he’s so appealing to his wife.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- German Films
- Love Triangle
- Mistaken or Hidden Identities
Made on a shoestring budget for German television, Doris Dorrie‘s Men later enjoyed a successful theatrical release, and was the most widely seen German film that year. Essentially an unconventional “love triangle”, it tells the story of a successful ad executive named Julius (Lauterbach) who is so devastated and puzzled by his wife’s affair with free-spirited, long-haired artist Stefan (Ochsenknecht) that he goes to comedic extremes to learn more about why she’s betrayed him. Because the storyline is set up as a comedy, we’re meant to ignore the first glaring logical loophole that emerges: wouldn’t Stefan see photos of Julius at his lover’s house, and recognize him? This minor quibble aside, however, we soon watch in fascination as the newly humbled Julius– a casual womanizer himself, who’s cheated on his wife countless times in the past — does everything he can to comprehend Stefan’s appeal, and perhaps become a bit more like him. Meanwhile, he can’t help releasing his simmering rage towards the unsuspecting Stefan in random fits, which Stefan conveniently accepts as part of Julius’s “crisis”. Eventually, as the two men get to know and trust each other, a genuine friendship emerges, albeit one predicated on deception. While it’s not must-see viewing for all viewers, Men is recommended for those who enjoy unconventional tales of male bonding.
Note: The film’s poster, which depicts an image from the final comedic scene in the film, is a bit misleading; while there are certainly homoerotic twitches throughout (and one kiss), relations between the two men, for the most part, remain strictly “platonic”.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Heiner Lauterbach as Julius/Daniel
- Uwe Ochsenknecht as Stefan
- An unconventional tale of male friendship and secret rivalry
No, but it’s definitely recommended. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.