Enys Men


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Enys Men
"It has a Wicker Man feel but without the flamboyant histrionics" | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Directors' Fortnight

Steeped in atmosphere and the wild crashing sea around the Cornish coast, Mark Jenkin delivers a kind of folk supernatural horror tale delving into local historical myths.

After his previous debut feature Bait, which was made on a minuscule budget, Jenkin has a bit more cash to play around with but not much.

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The title refers to the name of a wild and ravaged island off the mainland - Enys means stone and men (pronounced main in Cornish) stands for island.

It’s practically one person show for actress Mary Woodbine, who has been sent there to document rare plants which also have historical resonances.

It is shot on deliberately grainy 16mm film (Jenkin is also editor and hand processes much of his own footage) giving it a feel of a home movie with a distinctive and hypnotic soundtrack, which reveals the deserted island’s past as a mining and sea-faring community.

The woman is the only inhabitant, who goes about her daily chores with a quiet determination - firing up her petrol generator, throwing a stone into the brooding well of a tin mine at the foot of a crumbling stone outlook tower. Then she discovers that the flowers she is growing start to sprout lichens.

It’s set in 1973 and with the May Day approaching when offerings are said to be made, temptation beckons, and time begins to collapse.

It has a Wicker Man feel but without the flamboyant histrionics and leaves much of the narrative unexplained. This only heightens the growing grip of the curiosity Jenkin exerts.

Reviewed on: 23 May 2022
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Enys Men packshot
A volunteer observing a rare wild flower finds the different worlds that have inhabited the island where she is beginning to collide.
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Director: Mark Jenkin

Writer: Mark Jenkin

Starring: John Woodvine, Edward Rowe, Mary Woodvine, Morgan Val Baker, Isaac Woodvine, Callum Mitchell, Dion Star

Year: 2022

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: UK

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