MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN
A group of high school teenagers and their parents attempt to navigate the many ways technology has changed their relationships, communication, self-image and love lives, paying attention to video game culture, anorexia, infidelity, celebrity culture and the proliferation of X-rated internet material. There is a variety of roads to choose - hopeful, tragic - showing no-one is immune to the social change we are living through with our mobile phones and computers.
Review by Louise Keller:
A terrifying look at the digital world in which we exist - within the realm of internet, social media, texting and sexting - this is a film everyone should see. Perhaps the gradual morphing into the digital world as it has developed has clouded our vision as to exactly what is happening to our society? I for one, found this adaptation of Chad Kultgen's first novel a revelation, with Jason Reitman's piercing and often shocking film honing in on the problems we face, the perspective shifts and the enormous challenges and threats to today's youth as it struggles to navigate its way on the tightrope between reality and fantasy. It's fascinating, voyeuristic, alarming and - worst of all - it's true!
The difficult task of setting up the context of Earth's relative insignificance as the miniscule speck in the solar system (Karl Sagan Pale Blue Dot, photographed by the space probe Voyager 1) is left to Emma Thompson's narration at the beginning of the film. It feels a little stilted. Then we are drawn into the reality of teens and parents, perching on their shoulders to realize first hand the impact of the digital age in relation to sex, relationships and related issues.
This is a world in which addiction is rife. Internet porn, reality video games, escort sites, serial texting of sexual exploits - fabricated or not. Jennifer Garner's over-zealous mum represents the other end of the spectrum, vetting her daughter Brandy's (Kaitlyn Dever)
phone and social media sites with fanaticism. The story strands include Tim Mooney's (Ansel Elgort) addiction to the Guild Wars video game reality as an escape from his angst over his mother's leaving his father for another man; a different kind of addiction for Adam Sandler's middle aged married Don Truby, who frequents internet porn to compensate for his disinterested wife Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt); school slut Hannah Clint's (Olivia Crocicchia) compulsion to text broadcast sexual exploits, real or imagined; her mother Donna's (Judy Greer) exploitation of her daughter; Allison's (Elena Kampouris) obsession with being thin leads to more than not eating.
All the performances are excellent with special mention to Ansel Elgort and Adam Sandler, who manages to rise above the screen persona we have grown to know so well. His final scene involving making breakfast is one of the film's best.
There is a voyeuristic element about all of it as we traverse the boundaries of the world where you can create your own fake image (think, Gone Girl) to that of real life (RL). The best scenes are those when consequences of all the actions rebound. These are punchy, hard-hitting and emotionally dense. The relationships in question are put through the ringer: boyfriend-girlfriend; mother-daughter; husband-wife. This is a riveting film, offering plenty of food for thought and discussion. Recommended.
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MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN (M)
CAST: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Crocicchia, Kaitlyn Dever, Ansel Elgort, Katherine Hughes, Elena Kampouris, Travis Tope
PRODUCER: Helen Esterbrook, Jason Reitman
DIRECTOR: Jason Reitman
SCRIPT: Jason RFeitman, Erin Cressida Wilson (novel by Chad Kultgen)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Steelberg
EDITOR: Dana E. Glauberman
MUSIC: Not credited
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bruce Curtis
RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 27, 2014