A few months ago, a film was dropped right onto Netflix that did not get any buzz. It is a Netflix Original French comedy called “I Am Not an Easy Man.” The premise is that a male chauvinist hits his head and is somehow transported into a parallel world where there is matriarchy instead of a patriarchy. The gender roles are completely reversed and women are masculine while men are feminine. High powered jobs are held by women while men are designated to secretarial work and home care. The story is so straightforward that it’s hard to believe that it hasn’t been done before, well at least not to popular acclaim.
The story begins with the protagonist (Damien) going about his day. He introduces a new app for his workplace then meets his author friend all the while womanizing. At some point, he accidentally hits his head on a pole which causes him to wake up in the alternate world. In this new world, he finds that women do not have to dress up and wear make-up while on the other hand, he must work harder to get by. What is entertaining about the film is that it is humorous not in the traditional sense but in the way it pushes its agenda. It is pretty obvious from the beginning that the film has a very feminist stance and it goes through so many of the modern day issues affecting women. There are scenes where Damien has to wear very short pants, he gets a bikini wax for his chest, and even ends up carrying a purse. The most surprising aspect is that these moments are genuinely funny. There is just something inherently humorous about seeing a scene where women criticize a man because of his age or condescend him for being “hysterical”.
The filmmakers also utilize a technique that film scholars discuss quite often which is the male gaze. For anyone who is not a film nerd, this term refers to the camerawork used to accentuate sensuality, beauty, and vulnerability. These techniques, which are still prevalent today, are used on female characters. Micheal Bay, for example, loves this technique. The idea is that men see women in this way so the movie is representative of this notion. So, this film takes this technique and like everything else directs it at men. There is a shower scene that is filmed in an erotic way and it is with a male character. Another scene takes place in a strip club and men are dancing not in the traditional Chip n’ Dales’s fashion but in the common sensuous way reserved for women. The male gaze is not just about the framing though, it is also about how the characters are portrayed. There are many male characters who have no other purpose besides being a prostitute or a maid. One dialogue scene between an escort and a client is straight out of a 1960’s film with just the traditional genders reversed.
Truthfully, I had a lot of trepidation going into this analysis. “I Am Not an Easy Man” is a genuine feminist statement against the patriarchy. Being a man and discussing the movie at length just feels wrong, to say the least. Although, taking the time to sit back and contemplate the themes made me realize that this film is meant for men. While women will laugh at the circumstances and movie nerds will enjoy the references to classic cinema, the average man can learn so much. There were so many moments that made me realize the powerful and overbearing nature of the patriarchy. How truly entitled I am to be a man and how different the world could be without that privilege.
It is unfortunate that “I Am Not an Easy Man” did not receive a lot of attention because there is a lot of interesting aspects to the film. Any movie that has a strong social commentary while still being funny is at least an A in my book. In the end, I am so glad to have seen it because there is a lot to learn and enjoy. Sometimes in life, we take certain privileges for granted and this movie puts those right into the forefront in the most hilarious way.
You can watch “I Am Not an Easy Man” on Netflix through their subscription service.