The following principles serve as Enys Men's foundation: A volunteer is entrusted in 1973 with keeping track of a rare flower that is blooming on an island off the coast of Cornwall. She has to go out to the cliffside where they grow every day to measure the soil's temperature and log it in a logbook. She seems to own the remainder of her time there. She starts her generator, turns on the radio, wanders the island at night and reads by candlelight before going to bed. But she occasionally shares a home with a young lady. The volunteer notices smiling miners, singing cultists, and unsettling lichen development. Nothing she or the audience encounters can be taken at face value because reality has become unstable.
It can be irritating to feel narratively unanchored, but for the majority of the film, other, more deliberate emotions overpower that one. Enys Men has an instant and powerful hold on the audience. It's almost ironic how dedicated the film becomes to upending one's sense of time because the mise en scène, and the striking use of colour in particular, so clearly evokes the period. The editing maintains tight control of the pace after the sound design and cinematography completely immerse the audience in this universe. The volunteer's daily ritual of throwing a stone down the well outside her lodging assumes a greater significance from the start, and its weight is always felt.
However, those who try to reason their way through will run out of tolerance. If a viewer wants to fully comprehend Enys Men on that level, Jenkin provides them with enough pieces of the puzzle to build numerous narratives. However, there comes a moment where trying to separate the real from the imagined seems pointless, and as a result, the final act suffers. There's no reason this movie couldn't have achieved what it does in, say, 60 minutes from a dramatic standpoint. Giving the audience at least a slim chance of a coherent story, even if that kind of resolution is eventually rejected, would go a long way towards keeping them interested for that extra 30 minutes.
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