Men Up Review


Men Up Review

Men Up review – A Television Masterpiece Chronicles the Pioneers of Viagra

This beautifully poignant drama, centered around a cohort of Welsh men grappling with erectile dysfunction and experimenting with a groundbreaking new drug, is impeccably executed. It strikes a perfect balance, offering a heartwarming conclusion to the year. The narrative unfolds with precision, capturing the emotional nuances of the characters as they navigate the challenges of their condition and the promise of a revolutionary medication. This film stands as a testament to thoughtful storytelling and serves as a delightful note to conclude the year on a high.

I haven’t deployed this pun yet this year, and although it's taken me until the last few minutes of the year to do so, I'm delighted I kept my powder dry because Men Up is undoubtedly this year’s Christmas cracker. The 90-minute narrative, depicting the first trial of the drug that later became Viagra at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, in 1994, is concise, charming, and thoroughly delightful. Maintaining its twinkle throughout, the film treats its subject seriously, with characters navigating their situations without aiming for comedic effect. Matthew Barry's writing and Ashley Way's direction create a tonal masterpiece, never undercutting or overemphasizing any moment.

The storyline revolves around a few men who, having exhausted various treatments for erectile dysfunction in the early '90s, eagerly seize the opportunity to try a potential cure in pill form. Meurig (Iwan Rheon), whose struggles are linked to diabetes, while his wife (Alexandra Roach) fears it's connected to her double mastectomy after breast cancer, joins his fellow sufferers in testing the pill's efficacy. Connected to "strain gauges," they consume the pills, engage with adult content, and await the magical moment. For most, it eventually arrives, but for some, the disappointment threatens to overshadow everything.

The narrative unfolds as a gentle, compassionate, and witty exploration of the significance attributed—by men, society, and women (a topic deserving further discussion)—to the presence or absence of erections and the ability or inability for penetrative sex. This leads to an equally compassionate yet incisive examination of the restrictive definitions of masculinity we adhere to, their inflexibility and absurdity, and the unnecessary suffering caused by deviating from these narrow confines.

Even more impressively, Barry's script poignantly underscores the distinction between sex and intimacy. The restoration of erectile function addresses only one issue, and often not the core one. Colin, a widower portrayed by Steffan Rhodri, finds that the pills enable him to move beyond phone sex with his new companion. However, it's the enduring love he shared with his late wife, even during years when he couldn't "perform" (as if men were actors—or seals), that sustains him. This deep connection is what empowers him to support a distressed man for whom the new drug proves ineffective. The seldom-explored intimacy of unembarrassed male friendship emerges as one of the most touching aspects of "Men Up.

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