Jason Reitman’s latest project is an acutely observed film of social behaviour. Men, Women & Children opens with young students walking through school corridors texting as they go. The texts appear on the screen above each student.
The characters in the film are all linked through their parents and the school they attend. Adam Sandler plays Don, a father and husband whose relationship has slipped into a boring tedium. When he is unable to use his own computer, he accesses pornography on his son’s computer, only to discover his son is also an avid user of the same sites. Don’s wife has also used the internet to hook up in seedy hotels with unknown strangers for nights of passion.
In contrast Patricia (Jennifer Garner) has every internet block she can get her hands on to ensure her daughter has no access to unfavourable sites. She monitors her daughter’s phone use picking up all her texts and voice messages. Fellow mother Donna (Judy Greer) has a more open attitude to her daughter’s use of the internet. She facilitates her daughter’s online site to encourage her to break into the world of show business. Something she felt she missed out on.
Emma Thompson narrates the story with contempt and scorn as she seemingly looks down on the mess everyone is making of their lives.
Thank goodness there are moments of humour in this film. It gives no solution to the intrusion of social media and the way it has warped our most intimate relationships – mother and daughter, father and son and husband and wife. Instead it acts as a scary social commentary and perhaps a reminder that communication in its traditional sense is still the way ahead.
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