All the players in “The Misogynists” sound as if they’ve been handed talking points instead of a screenplay.
A racist, sexist, angry middle-aged exec explains away his inadvertently overheard and vile monologue about two women by quoting verbatim from the book of Trump: “It’s locker room talk.”
A sex worker talks her colleague into accompanying her to a high-paying gig by arguing what they do is “empowering.” Her friend counters with, “We just need to stop allowing ourselves to be sexualized. In magazines, movies, everything’s about our bodies, I’m sick of that…”
A liberal white mom is called out by her child for hypocrisy. A hotel manager explains her hesitation to clear the floor after a guest pointed a gun at her by saying, “That’s not a good enough reason. Ted Nugent was here last week [and] he had four rifles with him.”
These are not believable human beings. They’re archetypes, spouting dialogue that sounds like Neil LaBute circa “The Company of Men” meets David Mamet without the insight.
Writer-director Onur Tukel’s occasionally sharp-edged but ultimately blunt and overcooked satire, which takes place in New York City on the night of the 2016 presidential election, premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October of 2017 but is just now getting a commercial release.
It’s not necessarily dated. It just dabbles in easy stereotypes without offering much in the way of perspective.
Dylan Baker plays Cameron, a 56-year-old corporate executive who has been living in a hotel suite and partying hard for the last few months, following a split from his wife of some 30 years.
As the election results come pouring in and it’s clear Donald J. Trump will be the next president of the United States, the ecstatic Cameron proclaims, “The bitch lost, men rule!”
Lou Jay Taylor is Cameron’s co-worker, Baxter, who joins Cameron to celebrate Trump’s victory, but is having a hard time enjoying himself because he knows his wife (Christine M. Campbell) will be devastated by the election results. Ivana Milicevic and Trieste Kelly Dunn are the aforementioned prostitutes who have been hired by Cameron but come to have second thoughts about spending the evening with such a loathsome individual.
Writer-director Tukel adds some effective flourishes, e.g., clips on the hotel TV playing in disturbing, reverse fashion, a la an Oliver Stone film. And there are slyly funny bits of dialogue, as when a husband tells his wife he had only half a beer, and she responds, “You only had half a beer? What’d you do with the other half?”
But far more often, realism and nuance are lost as Cameron spouts lines such as, “I hate this PC culture. … You’re not free if you’re worried about hurting people’s feelings, Trump understood that,” and “F--- being nice, long live Trump!” and “You go low, we go high, how’d that work out for you?”
I know: Some people talk just like that. But Cameron is a contrived and over-the-top maniac who gets into nasty confrontations of his own making, spews ignorant opinions about an overweight woman, takes sadistic pleasure in a development that spells the end of his friend’s marriage, ranks ethnic groups from “the lowest to the highest” and delivers a rambling, booze- and drug-fueled monologue about how “none of us are f---ing free from the moment we’re born.”
Baker is a consummate actor, and there’s no denying the intensity and power of that final diatribe, which contains a razor-thin glimpse into the source of Cameron’s self-destructive behavior and his vitriol.
Far too little, far too late. By then, Cameron has behaved like such a rage- and hate-filled caricature, nothing in his past comes close to excusing the monster he’s become.