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"Spare me the masculinist babble!"
Alexandra
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I am not an easy man (original title: Je ne suis pas un homme facile) is a thought-provoking Fantasy Romantic Comedy directed by Eléonore Pourriat, and the second French language feature film produced by Netflix, being preceded by July Hygreck's Blockbuster by a mere month. It was first available for streaming on the platform in February 2018.

The plot follows Damien (Vincent Elbaz), a successful, 40-year old Parisian publicist, a confirmed bachellor and proud womanizer, who after being knocked out in an accident, wakes up in a world very much like the one he left behind... except that traditional gender roles have been turned on their heads, and Damien is now the victim of the same sexist prejudices he had unashamedly utilized himself his whole life. In this world, women dominate society, politics, and religion, they dress in comfortable two-piece suits and are expected to bring home the bacon. Meanwhile, men are pressured to watch their appearance and show (shaved) skin until they find a woman, or are prevented from having successful careers in order to become homemakers and childrearers.

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Damien leaves his job after being the target of unwanted sexual advances by his (now female) boss and has to become the personal assistant of Alexandra (Marie-Sophie Ferdane), a celebrity novelist and unashamed female chauvinist. Despite Alexandra behaving much like Damien did in his previous life (or because of it), Damien falls in love with her, and she seems to reciprocate. However, she is actually milking him for inspiration to write her new novel, I am not an easy man, and plans to dump Damien as soon as it is finished.

Compare Oppressed Majority, a 2010 Short Film by Pourriat that had the same premise and made Netflix approach her with an offer to make this film. Also compare the Indian web series Mens World and the comic series Y: The Last Man.


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Tropes:

  • Accidental Pornomancer: The movie argues that this is an Enforced Trope for men in Real Life. It is also one for women in the alternate universe.
  • Allohistorical Allusion:
    • Men who campaign for men's rights in the alternate world (or men who are perceived as being too outspoken about it) are called "masculinists".
    • Queens beat Kings at Poker.
    • Christianity is the cult of Mary and the Immaculate Conception is counted as one of her miracles. Jesus plays second fiddle to her.
    • The Madame President of the French Republic has just been discovered in an affair and this is a source of amusement for the women, but not something to condem her for. This is a reference to François Hollande's relationship with actress Julie Gayet, which started as an affair while he was in a long-time relationship with journalist Valérie Trierweiler (a relationship that also started as an affair while Hollande was in another relationship with politician Sególène Royal). At the time, Hollande's popularity was at an all-time low and it actually went up because of the affair.
  • An Aesop: Sexism and double standards based on gender are bad. Some of the attitudes we find natural are just so internalized that we don't realize they are sexist and unfair.
  • Attempted Rape:
    • The incident that causes Damien to quit his job (where he has been demoted in practice and is not taken seriously as a publicist anymore) has his boss unzipping her pants while he is picking something up under her desk, in a rather obvious 'invitation' to give her cunnilingus.
    • When Damien gets drunk at a bar, a patron leads him to the basement, undresses him and tries to have sex with him under the reasoning that he is "asking for it". She doesn't actually ask if he wants to have sex with her.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Damien acts more feminine (from our perspective) as the movie advances, becomes monogamous and an activist for gender equality.
    • Alexandra falls in love with Damien for real.
  • Bizarro World: Every person Damien knew pre-accident also lives in the alternate universe, but their personality is different.
  • Boomerang Bigot: When the "masculinists" go to protest the literary awards, they are insulted only by other men who consider them a disgrace.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • The movie is devoted to denounce double standards between genders - and yet, 40-year old Damien is played by a 47-year old actor, while 40-year old Alexandra is played by an actress of the same age. It is hard to believe it could be the opposite, isn't it?
    • Likewise, after Damien's confusion wears down, the movie evolves into a typical romantic comedy with misunderstanding plot, where the traditionally female part (Damien) is rather passive and dependent on the traditionally male part (Alexandra).
  • Butch Lesbian: Referenced when Sybille makes fun of Damien for "dressing like a lumberjack" (jeans and long-sleeved squares shirt). Alexandra later asks him (between laughs) if he is gay.
  • Call It Karma: Damien, a misogynist (although not a very outspoken or conscious one) is transported to a Lady Land universe. At the end, Alexandra, a misandrist from that Lady Land, is transported to our universe... which is a No Woman's Land if we apply the same standards.
  • Chick Magnet:
    • Damien pre-accident, or at least he thinks so. Truth is that he shoots at every woman on sight, so at least some are going to fall for him. He also gets cat-called, harassed and almost raped in the alternate world, but it is doubtfull he appreciates that kind of attention.
    • Lady Land Alexandra is a Boy Magnet, at least in the same way Damien was.
  • Closer to Earth: Averted. The movie depicts women (and their male equivalents in the alternate universe) as enablers of male chauvinism by not standing up to it, if not actually supporting and engaging in it themselves.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Invoked by several characters trying to shame Damien as an Old Maid because he didn't settle down and marry. They all keep bringing up the fact that he lives alone with his cat, including his own (alternate universe) parents. In contrast, nobody ever mentions that Alexandra lives alone with her chameleon although it is later revealed that Alexandra is already married to another man and has a daughter with him.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Both Islam and Christianity exist in the alternate world, except the clergy is female, God is a "She", and Mary is the prophet/God incarnate rather than Jesus, who is a supporting character in her cult. Muslim men wear hijab.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Downplayed. Damien seems the sole protagonist in the trailers and the early movie. However, Alexandra eventually takes over and displaces him from the main focus.
  • Double Standard: The Movie. Nearly every scene references, spoofs or denounces a real life male-female double standard.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After learning that Alexandra is already married despite accepting his marriage proposal, Damien gets drunk at a bar and is almost raped by a patron who thinks he is "asking for it".
  • Ethical Slut: As annoying as Damien's "romancing" may be in the beginning, he is not really a bad guy and he learns his lesson fast after being thrown in the alternate world. Alexandra is as much a slut in the alternate universe, but she realizes how cruel she was being with Damien, ruins her career for his sake, and rescues him at the bar.
  • Excuse Plot: It isn't explained why Damien banging his head would make him switch dimensions, and his nature as a refugee from our world loses importance as the movie progresses. The main point is highlighting real world sexism, rather than following Damien's journey.
  • Fantastic Racism: Every misogynist attitude in the real world is a misandrist attitude in the alternate one. There is also a female bartender who refuses to serve Muslim men in hijab.
  • Fish out of Water: Damien in the alternate universe. It actually takes him a while to get tired of being cat-called, as in the beginning he likes it (though he is rather surprised and confused) and hits back on the women himself. And when a date brings him to a (male) strip club with pole dancers, he laughs his ass off instead of being angry or embarrassed.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Constant ones. The movie uses the background to point out every day double standards that we may not be very conscious about, like women dating much younger men and strolling with their arms over their shoulders, men in different degrees of nudity regardless of weather (or covered head to toe, in traditional Muslims' case), and street advertising using men as a lure regardless of what they are actually selling.
  • Funny Foreigner: The Russian immigrant worker that Damien hires to remove some graffiti from Alexandra's door. Her asscrack is showing, and she laughs her ass off when he explains that the word is a synonym of "bitch".
  • Gender Flip: The entire setting, but also the plot after the novelty wears off. Damien plays the traditional female part in a romantic comedy, and Alexandra the traditional male part.
  • Gender-Inverted Trope: Among others, the movie invokes Crazy Cat Lady (except it is a Crazy Cat Mister), Woman Scorned (except it is a Man Scorned), and Rape as Drama (with the man being almost raped by a woman).
  • Heel Realization: Alexandra decides to stop writing the book when she sees her publisher laughing about how clueless Damien is and how he will have his heart shattered.
  • High Concept: So... what if men were women, and women were men?
  • Hysterical Woman: Invoked, again, as a double standard. Alexandra wakes up in an ambulance at the end, not knowing how she got there or why, becomes frustrated and angry with the paramedics evasive remarks, and ultimately jumps out of the vehicle as she is feeling well anyway. The paramedics make disparaging remarks about her being "a hysterical one."
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • The alternate universe is not really an Alternate History, but a complete mirror. Everything and everyone that exists in Damien's previous life also exist here, and in loosely similar positions as to be recognizable (he works at the same place, with the same people, has the same parents and neighbors, etc). The looked down upon female publicist is the boss of the company and the boss is a glorified secretary; Christophe, who is a novelist in our world with Alexandra as a personal assistant, is now the personal assistant to Alexandra, who is the novelist.
    • A different case is the casual reference to a "Magritte" painting, even though Réné Magritte would not have (presumably) inherited his surname from his father in this world. For once, the line is not referencing a double standard, so the movie wastes no time in trying to come up with a different name for the equivalent of a Magritte painting in this world and explaining it.
  • Ironic Echo: Pre-accident, Damien tries to hit on Alexandra by making her say "mimosa" and then complimenting the way her lip curls when she says it. Post-accident, Alexandra brings up the word "mimosa" while trying to hit on Damien. He laughs at the coincidence.
  • It Will Never Catch On: When pre-accident Damien tries to hit on Alexandra, he asks her when they should meet again, and she says: "In another life".
  • Lady Land: The alternate world, obviously.
  • Lighter and Softer: Surprisingly, to its spiritual predecessor, Oppressed Majority, which followed a stay-at-home dad being gang-raped by female hoodlums and then having to deal with an unsympathetic female chauvinist cop and victim-blaming from his own wife. The short also featured topless female joggers and women pissing in an alley without a care in the world, both absent from the film aside from one female jogger briefly going by topless, and its commentary on Islam was both longer and harsher.
  • Like Goes with Like: Damien falls in love with alternate Alexandra, who behaves like Damien did in his world.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Despite most men in the film having short hair, more or less, it seems that the alternate world fetishizes long-haired men to some degree. The strippers, prostitutes, and the singer at the "queer" bar all have long, flowing, straight hair.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: While obviously not the case in the alternate world, the inversion is not complete. Most women have their hair at half length or tied in a pony-tail, and thus still longer than most men in either their world or ours. However, the only women we ever see in the alternate world with long, loose hair are the gay/transvestite women at the queer bar.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Played with, as denying the "injury" part is the actual point of the scene. Damien tells Lolo that she is pissing herself. She looks down, shrugs, and says that she actually broke her water and is off to get the car keys to go to the hospital. When Lolo's concerned husband asks her if he should drive, she shrugs again and says that she is not sick. Then, while giving birth, she acts like she's doing a chin-up, delivering the baby while holding onto a bar standing up before medical staff. It seems this is standard in-universe for women to prove their strength.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It isn't evident right away if Damien has been really transported to a different world or is just having Adventures In Coma Land. The ending implies that he really was transported, as both Damien and alternate!Alexandra wake up in our world.
  • Metafictional Title: The movie shares its name with Alexandra's in-universe novel, which is in turn based on her experiences with Damien.
  • Mistaken For Crazy: Damien tells of his post-accident confusion to a (female) psychiatrist and says he fears he's becoming crazy. The psychiatrist laughs it off and says that it is nothing. She then reassures him that if she had evidence that he was really crazy, like if he could not name Madame la Président of the Republic, she would commit him, but not for this. Cue Damien's Oh, Crap!, as he obviously can't name the alternate President.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Alexandra humors Damien's claims of being from a different world by bringing him to a gay bar where women have long hair, skirts and high heels, and men wear two-piece suits, among others. When Damien says that, yes, that is how people dress in his world, Alexandra laughs and says that he is gay.
  • Morton's Fork:
    • Two Muslim men bitterly complain that if they cover too much it is a problem with some women, and that if they don't, it is a problem with some others. It is always men who suffer for it, they say.
    • Damien is shamed for being "hairy like a monkey" and pressured to shave except for a "landing stripe" in the middle of his chest; otherwise he'll never get a date. A bar patron later tries to rape him because, eh, having a "landing stripe" is just asking for it.
  • No Woman's Land: In retrospect, our own world. As stressed in the final scene.
  • Oh, Crap!: Damien has two. One when he sees the Muslims being refused service for wearing hijab, which is the final nail in his realization that he is indeed in a different world. The other, when his psychiatrist jokingly remarks that she'll have him committed if he can't name the (female) President of France.
  • Old Maid: Damien is shamed by his parents for being alone with his cat at 40. Nobody cares that Alexandra lives alone with her chameleon, however. It turns out she's actually married, but separated, while her estranged husband cares for their daughter.
  • Parental Abandonment: Alexandra is still married to another man and has a teenage daughter that lives with him. Only her publisher knows about them and she never visits.
  • Persecution Flip: The entire plot of the movie.
  • Rape as Drama: The err... climax of the movie has Alexandra and Damien's friends racing to a bar before he is raped by a patron.
  • Real After All: At the end, alternate world Alexandra is transported to our world and meets Damien, who remembers his stay in Lady Land and has become a feminist supporter, marching with women in a protest.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Alexandra turns down Damien hitting on her by saying they'll only meet again in another life. She's entirely right, but she has no idea.
  • Saying Too Much: Alexandra believes that Damien is getting drunk because he learned that she was using him for inspiration to write her book, and tries to apologize for it. He's actually doing it because he has learned that she is already married, and he takes the reveal as another betrayal.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Alexandra stops writing the book when she realizes how cruel she is being for playing with Damien's feelings. She suggests writing a different book; when her publisher refuses, she quits despite having mounting debts.
  • Slut-Shaming: Attempted by a previous lover of Alexandra, who paints "Sow" on her door and "Small Tits" over her bed.
  • Spiritual Sequel: To Oppressed Majority. It has the same premise, director-writer, and shares two actors (Pierre Benezit and Céline Menville), but they play different characters and the plot is different.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: While not stated outright, it is certainly expected that men take care of children and home, as shown when Christophe is in the kitchen while Lolo is drinking and watching (female) rugby on TV. After Lolo gives birth, Christophe is the one expected to get paternity leave and take care of the infant (presumably all babies are bottle-fed). Male coworkers (and female before the accident) are also expected to act as waiters for their coworkers of the opposite sex, even though they have the same rank and (presumably) pay. Damien's elderly parents in their shop also reflect this, with his mother doing the main work while his father knits.
  • Unkempt Beauty: For all its talk of inverting gender norms, it is actually hard to find ugly actresses in this film. They all have unelaborate hairdos and don't wear makeup, and wear comfortable but unflattering clothes, however.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: Averted with a prostitute Alexandra saw. She later spies him in his apartment across the way from her, pretending he's having dinner with someone, then burying his face in his hands, apparently distraught at the lack of such real intimacy in his life.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene:
    • The male pole dancers, who still have their nipples covered for added hilarity.
    • The prostitute that Alexandra hires also covers his chest after getting off the shower, but the towel falls to his waist while he combs his hair.
    • Alexandra is proud of her abs and often walks topless around her home. This isn't surprising because bras are apparently nonexistent here.
  • Woman Scorned: Men scorned, in this case.
    • A heartbroken former lover of Alexandra vandalizes her apartment, and he is not happy to see Damien there as he thinks she's already replaced him at this point (this wasn't actually the case yet, at least not with Damien).
    • Christophe throws Lolo out after he discovers she had an affair.
    • Damien takes his frustration out on Alexandra's things when he discovers that she is already married, despite her promise to marry him.
  • Writer's Block: Alexandra is suffering from one when she meets Damien, and she is accumulating debts because of it. This is what convinces her to write a book based on Damien and to seduce him for more material.
  • Your Cheating Heart: As part of the double standard, many women engage in it and find it at least amusing, if not something to brag about. They also joke about the (unnamed, female) President being discovered to have an affair, an obvious reference to François Hollande's affair with Julie Gayet.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: Everything. From men keeping their body hair, to dating several women without committing to a long-time relationship, to our gendered clothing conventions, etc.

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