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Disconnect (2013) • Movie
View Of Life In The Digital Age
April 11, 2013
didactic in spots and melodramatic in others, but Disconnect's strong cast helps
make it a timely, effective exploration of modern society's technological
overload. --Rotton Tomatoes
Disconnect turns out to have a complicated view of life in the
digital age. Rising to scenes of real intimacy and insight, the movie is
stimulating, and, at times, touching. --Orange County
Journalists lie, spouses stray and thieves
steal, but "Disconnect" keeps trying, unsuccessfully, to pin the blame on
technology rather than its users. --Newsday
Even when the dramatic
stakes are raised to the point of pounding music accompanying super-slow motion,
potentially tragic violence, "Disconnect" struck a chord with me in a way few
films have in recent years.
I believed the lives of
these people. I believed they'd do the drastic things they do in the face of
crisis. I ached for them when things went terribly wrong and rooted for them
when there were glimmers of hope.
three distinct story lines, with some overlap between two of the main
Patton) and Derek (Alexander Skarsgard) are as
handsome a couple as you'll ever see, but they're in mourning over the loss of
their baby, and their already troubled marriage is further tested when their
identities are stolen on the Internet — most likely because
Cindy spends most of her day online, in particular chatting
with a man who claims to be a widower and seems interested in meeting her in
Nina (Andrea Riseborough) is an ambitious and
cunning television reporter for a local station who strikes up a webcam
conversation with an 18-year-old Internet sex model (Max Thieriot) in the hopes of
interviewing him for an expose on the predators who recruit teen girls and boys
to become online porn performers.
Jason (Colin Ford) and Frye
(Aviad Bernstein) are a couple of
smart-ass skateboard punks who target freaky music nerd Ben
(Jonah Bobo) for an extended online
prank in which they pose as a fictional girl with a Facebook crush on
Note that all of these
conflicts and relationships are initiated through laptops, iPads and cell
phones. People fall in love, exploit one another, reveal their deepest secrets
and even commit felonious acts — all before there's a single face-to-face
meeting. That's hardly a dramatic leap, given that in the real world, an
All-American football player and a nationwide media were convinced the football
player had a loving, caring girlfriend who died from cancer — a girlfriend he'd
never actually met in person, because it turns out she didn't exist.
We're supposedly more cynical and more
sophisticated, and we're certainly more technologically savvy (at an
increasingly younger age) than any generation in history — yet we're still so gullible and naive we're actually surprised to
learn social media sites are monitoring every link we click, every "Like" we
like, every product we Instagram. Working from a powerful,
authentic-sounding and moving script by Andrew
Stern, director Henry Alex
Rubin does a masterful job of laying out the
case in each story so we can understand how all these smart people can make such
dumb decisions and act in such a reckless manner while pecking away at keyboards
of various sizes.
Everywhere we turn in this film, there is strong
acting. Riseborough is brilliant as the local TV reporter whose ambition far
exceeds her skill set and her ethics. Thieriot's
Kyle is a strutting peacock and aggressively obnoxious, but we know it's bravado
masking his immense insecurity.
Bateman gives one of the best dramatic performances of his
career as a the high-octane attorney who's tethered to his BlackBerry and waves
off his wife's concerns about their nearly mute son. All of the younger actors
turn in fine work, most notably Colin
Ford as Jason, the online bully who begins to feel remorse about
torturing the class weirdo — but not enough remorse, and not soon enough.
Frank Grillo delivers award-worthy work as
Jason's father, a former cop now working as a private detective specializing in
Internet crimes. (He's more sympathetic to his clients Derek and Cindy
than he is to his son.)
We can see where one of these stories is going
well in advance of developments. The other two plot lines aren't as predictable,
but don't carry quite the emotional punch. But even
when "Disconnect" follows the path we expect it to follow, it does so in a way that
keeps us intensely engaged.
There wasn't a moment during this
movie when I thought about anything other than this movie.
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