Given recent news about self-described misogynist and TikTok star Andrew Tate — currently being detained in Romania and being investigated over allegations of human trafficking, rape and organized crime offenses — many might assume that Manodrome, the Berlinale competition entry starring Jesse Eisenberg that dives into toxic masculinity and incel culture, was a creative reaction to such figures.
Not so, claimed writer and director John Trengove in making his return to the festival six years after his well-received 2017 debut The Wound.
“I actually only found out about Andrew Tate very recently,” he explained at the press conference for the film ahead of its world premiere on Saturday night. “The kernel for the idea precedes him.”
Trengove said he set out not to make a commentary or documentary-style film about the so-called online “manosphere” of misogynistic, anti-female websites, but instead draw on ideas from this world and create something more mythical and imagined for his story, in which Eisenberg’s troubled character — a gym-obsessed Uber driver and father-to-be who is struggling to get by —is drawn into a cult that rejects women altogether and is led by Adrien Brody.
“I definitely resisted that topicality,” he said. “So there’s no immediate correlation with Andrew Tate. And thank God for that.”