Review: Men, Women And Children

Families caught in a chilling web


The evils of the internet is one of those subjects middle-class parents debate over Waitrose-catered dinner parties, while their children are upstairs online. They might be downloading music or making a video for You Tube, but they could just as easily be self-harming or chatting with a disguised paedophile.

Technology now allows us to communicate in multiple ways, yet on a human level we have never communicated less and that is the ugly message in Jason Reitman's beautifully acted film. Based on Chad Kultgen's novel, the men, women and children are from three different families, but their personal problems are ignited or exacerbated in the virtual world. There's a high school football hero (Ansel Elgort) who has ditched sport for life as an avatar warrior, while a fellow student (Travis Tope) is unable to have a relationship because of his pornography addiction.

There's a mother (Judy Greer) who sells photos of her cute cheerleader daughter (Olivia Crocicchia) to surfing strangers and another girl in the class (Elena Kampouris) who is in the grip of a pro-anorexia website.

Knowing this goes on doesn't make watching it any less chilling and Reitman who made the unforgettable Juno and Up In The Air has a matter-of-fact approach to the unpalatable reality of internet obsession which also leads a bored married couple (Adam Sandler and Rosemarie DeWitt) to go trawling for non-commital sex.

Sandler is much underrated as a straight man and his vulnerability in this is totally convincing. It's a fine ensemble piece, but without a solution the film leaves you stranded and longing for a time when a web was just for spiders.

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