InRealLife (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/09/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 85 mins

InRealLife is an insightful and impactful documentary that asks some important questions and listens to the answers without passing judgement, though the fact that the internet is such a huge subject makes the film feel like it's only scratching a small portion of the surface.

What's it all about?
Directed by Beeban Kidron, InRealLife is a documentary that seeks to explore the effects of constant exposure to the internet (including social media, smartphones, etc) on today's generation of net-savvy teenagers.

Kidron interviews five young British teens about their internet usage, using each one to highlight a different issue: Ryan (15) cheerfully outlines (in excruciating detail) his addiction to online porn but expresses concerns about the effect it is having on what he looks for in a relationship; Page (15) tells a horrific story about being coerced into gang rape in order to retrieve her precious Blackberry (as well as prostituting herself to buy it in the first place); Tobin (19) discusses how his addiction to gaming affected his studies at Oxford; Adzie attends a frankly terrifying meet-up of thousands of teenage YouTube users in Hyde Park, centered around YouTube sensation Tobuscus (also interviewed, though not especially coherent); and Tom (15), who came out on Twitter, sets out to meet his online boyfriend Dan in real life, with Kidron's cameras in tow.

The Good
Kidron intercuts her teenage interviewees with talking head contributions from concerned academics and various other doom-mongering commentators, including Julian Assange, who darkly warns us that the internet is the world's greatest spying machine and that Google knows us better than our own mothers. She also includes a devastating interview with the parents of a young Birmingham teenager who committed suicide after a concerted campaign of internet bullying.

Kidron's listening approach is commendable and the picture that emerges is both chilling and thought-provoking; it's safe to say that the one note of happiness (Tom and Dan finding each other) doesn't really compensate for the depressing outlook painted by the rest of the film, particularly as no one seems to have any viable solutions.

The Bad
InRealLife’s biggest problem is that the internet is such a huge subject that any one of these issues could merit an entire film on its own; as a result it feels that Kidron has barely scratched the surface of a much deeper issue. Similarly, though the scenes where Kidron visits data-housing complexes (accompanied by alien-like primordial sounds on the soundtrack) are interesting, they are largely superfluous to her argument, while the over-use of various Gangnam Style videos in her montages only goes to show how quickly internet fads can date.

Worth seeing?
InRealLife is an engaging, thought-provoking and ultimately depressing documentary that offers no easy answers to a problem that is only going to get bigger. One thing's for certain – it will make you feel very guilty for checking your smartphone the moment the film ends. Recommended.

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InRealLife (15)
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Content updated: 14/12/2017 16:52

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