Sunday, January 11, 2015

Video review: "Men, Women & Children"

Jason Reitman’s “Men, Women & Children” is a noble effort but not a successful film. It’s worth a look on video, because there are a few moments of quiet power in its ensemble cast and intersecting storylines. Other sections, though, wander.

The topic is sex, specifically how modern technology and digital interfaces reverberate in how we relate to each other romantically. The drama serves as a cautionary tale about letting contrived expectations interfere with the actual flesh-and-blood human beings we’re affectionate with.

The focus is mostly on teenagers, though adults figure into the mix, too. Kaitlyn Dever and Ansel Elgort play decent but confused kids who embark on a tender romance. Meanwhile, though, her mother (Jennifer Garner) is tracking her every movement and text message, terrified of what’s roaming out there in the digital ether.

Other stories include a mom (Judy Greer) who is distributing risqué photos of her own daughter on the web to paying customers, and a middle-aged couple (Adam Sandler and Rosemarie DeWitt) who are bored with each other but find excitement in random hook-ups with strangers they meet online.

Even more unsettling is the tale of a young girl who struggles with her body and her virginity, both of which she views as a burden rather than things to be celebrated. So she punishes herself by starving herself, and receives encouragement (!) from like-minded young women online.

There’s a lot to admire about this film, as it dares to ask uncomfortable questions about how we live and love today. The movie ultimately loses its way, but the journey is worthwhile.


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