Starring Kristine Cofsky. Rated PG
Certainly, there were mockumentaries before This Is Spinal Tap, but Rob Reiner made it look so easy that star Christopher Guest made a career out of picking apart social trends in pseudo-nonfiction style.
Indeed, that trick is simple to emulate; just have unreliable narrators and fake experts face the camera and improvise around that. But it’s extremely hard to sustain, as proven by No Men Beyond This Point, which stretches an iffy concept past the breaking point, even at 80 minutes. Here, Vancouver writer-director Mark Sawers, who went down the mock-doc route in his previous Camera Shy, constructs a world like our own except for the evolutionary kink of virgin births kicking in during the early 1950s. The lack of need for sperm donors, and the gradual shift to having daughters only, led to little use for what few men remained by the present day.
That’s intriguing, I suppose, although it completely negates the element of human desire, with its messy complexities, that has so far marked most behaviour on earth. To assume that one sex would repudiate the other simply because their reproductive relationship ended pretty much negates everything we already know about life, birth control, pornography, and friends with benefits.
For sci-fi speculation on the relatively sexless future of coupledom, you might do better with The Lobster, also currently playing, or any of the gender-exploring books of Ursula K. Le Guin. With its faux-archival footage (mixed with amusingly used real stuff), purposely shabby-looking “re-creations”, and a dull foreground tale of opposites attracting, No Men at least suggests basic satire by flipping major dudes into second-class citizens while underlining the absurdity of resistance to same-sex marriage. But these ideas aren’t developed and, far worse, are rarely funny. Led by Kristine Cofsky, the large cast is good at being deadpan. Then again, there’s not much life to this movie.