London Film Festival- Review: Men, Women and Children

In a society where teenagers spend 70 percent of their time attached to their phone/laptop/tablet screen it is very difficult to make a movie about young people in the same way as 80’s guru John Hughes. But Josh Reitman manages just that with his latest film- Men, Women and Children.

With the seductive narrative of Emma Thompson we are guided through this adaption of the critically acclaimed novel through chrome like internet tabs as alongside the standard action shots and panning we receive pop ups from texts and internet browsers.

Men, Women and Children follows the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives. The film attempts to stare down social issues such as video game culture, anorexia, infidelity, fame hunting, and the proliferation of illicit material on the internet. As each character and each relationship is tested, we are shown the variety of roads people choose – some tragic, some hopeful – as it becomes clear that no one is immune to this enormous social change that has come through our phones, our tablets, and our computers.

Fare enough? we say. Sounds pretty post modern? We say. But the reality is that Men, Women and Children capture more thrill and scare than any hammerhead horror as we discover the beast within, the one we carry with us every day ….. the internet!

As a teen of the early internet generation, before Facebook and Iphones, when there was MSN messenger and the Nokia 3310, I am a child of the era who has been able to see and experience it’s demon’s first hand. I am constantly gushing about how I’m so glad there was no such thing as facebook when I was a teen and your phone could only call or text- that alone was bad enough.  But this film explores the internet’s darker side- the teen that can’t get off normally with a girl because he’s used to dominatrix porn and the mother who finds comfort from her solitude in lonely house – their is a niche for everyone.

But first and foremost this is a film about relationships, how they begin and how they break down but with a modern twist.

At the press conference, director Jason Reitman stated how when researching for Jurno in 2006 the high schools were large wooden buildings with lockers… now there are no lockers as there are no books and there are things called ‘device days’ and ‘none device days’ – what ever happened to paper and felt tip pens eh?

What this film tells us is that we can’t stop kids from growing up, weather you are 15 in 1985 or 15 in 2015 every day is still going to be a melodrama where you feel like you’re dying slowly. However what Reitman does here is bring the typical rite of passage tale back to the present day with dark consequences.

Watch if you dare…