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From ‘Poor Things’ to ‘Barbie,’ a Crybaby Year for Men in the Movies



“I am not understanding this complicated feeling,” Bella remarks dispassionately at one point, as Duncan snivels over her sleeping with another man. The line lands as a joke; Duncan’s weepy reaction is entirely uncomplicated. But Bella’s confusion also hits on something real. Duncan doesn’t own Bella, as much as he would like to, and he sees himself as the victim of that reality.

The comedy in “Fair Play,” directed by Chloe Domont, is cast in a darker tone, and centers not on concerns about sex, but career. Here, our petulant man is Luke (Alden Ehrenreich), a hedge fund analyst who, early in the movie, loses out on a promotion to his fiancée, Emily (Phoebe Dynevor). This means that Luke reports to Emily, while she wins coveted face time with the boss.

To Luke, a silver-spoon-fed nepotism hire, nothing could be more intolerable. “I think I’m handling everything pretty well, given the circumstances,” he snarls at Emily before shrieking about how she “stole” his job.

Luke makes his thinking clear: He wanted the promotion, so it belonged to him. This delusion of entitlement is echoed, to an extent, in Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” a tremendous work of drama that follows a novelist, Sandra (Sandra Hüller), after the sudden death of her husband, Samuel (Samuel Thesis). Samuel was also a fiction writer, albeit a more stagnant one, and openly resented Sandra’s success.

In one crucial flashback, Samuel instigates a domestic scuffle with his wife. As the quarrel escalates, Samuel calls her selfish, chastises her for not learning his native language and accuses her of stealing his book premise. Finally, he prods, “I’ve given you too much — too much time, too many concessions. I want this time back and you owe it to me.”

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