It is safe to say that we have surrendered to the persuasive pull of social media and virtual living, retreating into auto-correct emoticons and an annoyance with human interaction. So it is interesting to watch the ensemble cast of Jason Reitman’s latest film — Men, Women & Children (which had a muted screening at the Toronto International Film Festival) — as they struggle to navigate the treacherous waters of the new age, this land without fear, because Reitman, working from Chad Kultgen’s novel (Reitman co-wrote the script with Erin Cressida Wilson), works under the assumption that there still is much to fear and that we are still somewhat aware of the dangers.
What he gives is a collection of characters isolated in their individual bubbles, floating along, sometimes bouncing lightly off one another, occasionally bursting upon impact. Yet, in their fragile membranes, they sense that the world is slipping away from their control. There is an uncomfortable sense of helplessness in the film that seems at odds with the Reitman who gave us sharply jaded stories like Thank You for Smoking and Juno. That’s the sensibility needed here, but sadly, we get the sentimentalist who left the belabored Labor Day on our doorsteps. (R) Grade: D+