“Without Men”, the film adaptation of James Canon’s “Tales From the Town of Widows” spreads the story of a group of women who create a utopian society. Director Gabriela Tagliavini narrates it from the perspective of a priest who is living in a small Columbian village after the men of the village had been abducted by a Guerilla army which left the women alone. Initially, they are lost without any “real” men around to do the simplest of chores. The story unfolds as they are forced to do manual labour for everything they need, with a little help from the ethically challenged priest. In the small town called “mucho mucho far away” Rosalba (Eva Longoria), a bossy strong-willed wife of the previous mayor, takes over her husband’s post and gets all the women to work together and build a self-sustaining community. Over time and after multiple comedic failures, a cohesive community is formed. Simultaneously, a journalist (Christian Slater) desperate for a story to save his career, stumbles on their story as he browses through a priest’s diary – the very same priest who preached at the “village without men”- he holds hopes of meeting these women, writing about their lives, and keeping his job.
The story talks of a gradual feminism that was inevitable rather than an uprisal or a conscious effort from the part of the women or even Rosalba herself. It almost seemed to happen in spite of her, as opposed to because of her. The film aspires to be more than a comic sex farce, it makes statements about; human sexuality, the acceptance of differences and love in general. It does not speak of a society that works better because women run it, but because it treats men and women equally and with respect. The village opposed violence, promoted education, encouraged each other to achieve their goals and be themselves and not hide anything. There are also quite a few obvious satirical thrusts at the Catholic Church and it’s teachings on sexual morality.
Having said all this, I must clarify that this is not one of your typical off-beat films, which only gets points from pseudo-intellectuals. The whole story is very animated and colourful. One particular part that I found particularly funny was when the village priest (Oscar Nunez) agrees to “sacrifice” his “chastity” as God asked him to step up and impregnate the women in the village for procreation. The virgin daughter of a prostitute, a woman whose husband has been long dead, a young sex-craving prostitute, all shown to be in bed with the not-so-good-looking priest, made for a long series of laughter.
Why would “Without Men” be of any interest to men? I am guessing the many lesbian scenes- including the one between Eva Longoria and Kate del Castillo- should cover three quarters of the answer. If that does not suffice, the scenes wherein a madam teaches the ladies in the village about masturbation and a virgin how to excite men might. But if you are looking for more than sex in a film, it would be easier to state thus: the film begins with “What would the world be if it were run by women?” and ends with “What would the world be if human beings were just left at that and not discriminated against, in any regard?”