LFF 2014 Review of MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN

Title: Men, Women & Children

Director: Jason Reitman

Writer(s): Jason Reitman, Erin Cressida Wilson (co-writer) and Chad Kultgen (author of the novel of the same name)

Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Judy Greer, Dean Norris, Olivia Crocicchia, Dennis Haysbert, J.K Simmons

Festival Premiere Date: 9th October 2014

General UK Release Date: 28th November 2014

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Running Time: 119 minutes

Plot Synopsis: A group of high school teenagers and their parents attempt to navigate the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lifes.

Review: Is social media a blessing or a curse? This is the main question we ask ourselves while watching the latest offering from writer/director Jason Reitman. Here he portrays a group of people, both young and old, trying to connect or failing to connect with each other through text messaging, internet chat rooms, virtual on-line gaming worlds and any other tech savvy devices.

This film has a lot to say about social media; demonstrating how much of a powerful tool it can be when seizing control and domination ¬†over our own thoughts, actions, and emotions as human beings. It centres very much on the technological, digital day and age we find ourselves living in, although whether that’s a good or a bad thing remains to be seen. Under Reitman’s direction though, we are shown an open window into these intertwining, personal stories between people who are such unknowing victims to this digital era; some not knowing how to use technology, some abusing its power; whilst others are afraid to use it. Its very much an ensemble drama, taking quite a serious approach to how people communicate with one another in the digital age and what kind of effect it has on relationships, intimacy and friendships. Some multiple, character plot strands being more tragic and heart breaking than others, lets make one thing clear. this is certainly not a film resulting in any happy endings or consequences for such a damaged group of lost souls, more of a film that will paint a realistically accurate, mostly uncomfortable and sometimes frightening portrait of how the digital world has clearly domineered and determined our actions for either the better or worse.

Adam Sandler gives another brilliant performance in a serious role as the husband of a failing marriage that has totally lost its spark, resorting to internet dating that he sneakily gained access to on his sons computer, hoping it will give him the happiness and excitement he craves for. Jennifer Garner plays an overbearing and incredibly over protective parent tracking her daughters every move and interaction on her phone or on her personal computer, preventing her from living a ‘normal’ life. A recently single father played by Dean Norris (of Breaking Bad fame and popping up here and there in countless movies) tries desperately hard to reconnect with his high school, football quitting son but ultimately feels cut off from his boy when he chooses to obsess with immersing himself in a role playing, interactive gaming site.

All aforementioned sub-plots and more are tightly woven together as we follow these misfit teens along with their families in a small Texas town, embarking on their own self discoveries and chosen pathways, all being sucked into this virtual world together and all of them coming to terms with just how their on-line obsessions is slowly ripping them apart and destroying their lives.

Jason Reitman has crafted an exceptional melodrama mirroring the digital world that we come to know and live in today. Charming, funny, emotionally charged with some truly sad and tragic moments as character relationships endlessly build up to life changing climaxes, this is a film that I responded to deeply and deals with subject matter that’s more relevant today than ever.

4 out of 5.

Martin

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