Men, Women & Children, film review: Jason Reitman's drama makes a connection

(15) Dir. Jason Reitman; Starring Rosemarie DeWitt, Jennifer Garner, 120mins
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The Independent Culture

Jason Reitman's fifth film, adapted from a novel by Chad Kultgen, is an ensemble piece about human relationships in the internet age. A swirling constellation of pop-up windows, search boxes and message bubbles is shown on screen.

There's a teenager who has been desensitised by porn, another who picks up bad habits from pro-anorexia forums, and another who debases herself because her self-worth is determined by the number of followers she has.

There's a shot of them all shuffling along the same school corridor, heads down, faces lit by the glow of their phone screens, looking like extras in a George Romero movie.

Their parents aren't any better; having online affairs, colluding in their children's exploitation, and either technophobes unable to connect with their children, or using technology to record their children's every movement and keystroke.

It's an exaggerated portrait of an atomised society, and it isn't as incisive, truthful – or as playful – as Reitman's earlier, better films, such as Juno or Young Adult. But the teenagers played by Ansel Elgort and Kaitlyn Dever are the film's conscience and its heart, and their developing relationship does allow it a little tenderness and hope. Just a little.

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