Mantis (2005)

mantis_still001The whole perception of society, marriage, and spousal abuse is put under the microscope, as director Foster-Algoo examines the whole picture of man and woman and how many times men can be victims too. Director Brendon Foster-Algoo first sets up the film as Adam is with his children in a stand off, and he’s depicted as a somewhat possessive husband. But throughout the course of the film, we not only learn that abuse is not just a woman’s cross to bear, but he also challenges our thoughts on the sexes, and how we instantly perceive the man as the violent aggressor, and the woman as the submissive persona. The funny thing is many of you won’t realize that you’ve made a snap judgment, and that’s what Foster-Algoo aspires and succeeds with.

Foster-Algoo’s film is original because it focuses on a rarely touched upon topic. Many times men can be abused by their spouses, and just because of their sex, aren’t always strong enough to fight back. Are women always the victims of mental and physical abuse? If they are the provider of abuse, are they justified? If they are, is the man who provides abuse also justified? Those are complex questions that Foster-Algoo challenges his audience with by posing, and re-adjusts our whole perspective on marital roles and shows how children aren’t fixated on the sex of the relationship, but more on situations. The children focused on during “Mantis” don’t take into mind who is the man or the woman, but more who is torturing the other.

Often times when the male is being abused in a relationship our natural response is “He probably had it coming,” or we scoff it off as playful, but “Mantis” reveals that abuse of any kind, on any sex, in any form is horrible, and painful, and Foster-Algoo shows that with a brave film with engaging characters. Foster-Algoo wisely switches roles and explores the situations of normal spousal abuse. This can happen to men, this will happen to men, but “Mantis” shows a true reality; society is on the woman’s side, whether she’s the victim or the attacker. Adam’s wife batters him, undermines him, and humiliates him, while later performing acts of kindness and promising to never do it again.

The situations, especially for battered woman, will really hit home, and then you’ll find yourself hard pressed to take abuse of any kind as simple. Alice’s power lies not so much in her strength, but more in her ability to carry herself as strong, and powerful and hordes it over Adam, and it intimidates him. His perception of himself is used to her advantage and that opens the lines for abuse. Foster-Algoo’s film is not an easy watch. It’s a horrible, and tragic tale of spousal abuse, and the effect it can have on the children, but it for once explores the abuse men can endure in relationships with women, and that’s what makes “Mantis” brilliant. If you think spousal abuse is exclusive only to women, “Mantis” is worth watching to erase that sentiment.