FNE at Berlinale 2023: Competition: Manodrome (UK/USA)

    Manodrome by John Trengove Manodrome by John Trengove source: berlinale.de

    BERLIN: South African director John Trengove’s UK/USA coproduction Manodrome screens in the main competition of the Berlinale starring Adrien Brody and Jesse Eisenberg. 

    Mandrome explores similar themes to his 2017 drama The Wound that screened in Sundance and in the Panorama section of the Berlinale.  Both films deal with how repressed feelings are released when repressed masculinity is suddenly given an outlet. 

    Ralphie played by Jesse Eisenberg is about to become a father but his job and his personal situation fail to make him happy. Like so many young men today he is in a low paying dead end job that offers no security or benefits and he is understandably frustrated and repressed. 

    When he is inducted into a libertarian masculinity cult, this awakens repressed desires and he loses his grip on reality.  Ralphie is young and healthy and his girlfriend Sal played by OdessaYoung, is pregnant and he works as an Uber driver.  Christmas is coming and the couple’s low income is putting pressure on the relationship.

    His relationship with his body may also be built on shaky foundations.   Then things start to change when he is introduced to Dad Dan played by Adrien Brody, the leader of a male-selp help group which turns out to be more of a libertarian masculinity cult , the tensions that have been growing inside him surface. Ralphie begins to lose his grip on reality.

    Ralphie decends into meltdown and madness as he goes on a steroid fuelled violent trip to another reality.  Clearly this is about this masculinity cult filling a void where Ralphie has felt totally powerless in a world that is exploiting young men like him in low paid insecure positions and he feel empowered and able to fight back against a world that has left him behind.

    Trengove who is gay also wrote the screenplay and he brings a gay perspective to this study of manhood that becomes a violent cult.

    But the cult turns into a nightmare. This is a serious look at what happens when repressed feelings explode.

    Manodrome (UK/USA)
    Directed by John Trengove
    Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Adrien Brody, Odessa Young, Sallieu Sesay, Philip Ettinger