Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Disconnect - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B+
Acting: A-
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+

Disconnect starts out skating on somewhat thin ice. Its premise initially comes across as a little heavy-handed: three different families face unique challenges in the context of modern technology. Specifically, online chatting, mobile texting, and identity theft. The first obvious question is: Do we really need a movie that serves as commentary on this stuff? Okay, people are more interested in "connecting" through electronics than in person, we get it! There's nothing new for us to ponder in that.

But as this film, as directed by Henry Alex Rubin (Murderball), settles into its stride, these concerns gradually fall by the wayside. More than once, just when you think the story is headed right for an irritating trope, Rubin takes you in a completely unexpected direction. The motivations of these many characters are never what you expect -- and they change. If you're looking for a nice drama at the movie theatre, this is a refreshing change.

There's nothing odd or quirky about these people, either. Any of them could be a stand-in for just about any person in our lives, living in this interconnected wired world. These are real-world problems regular people can easily get pulled into.

There are four storylines, with subtly interconnected characters. A married man and woman (Alexander Skarsgård and Paula Patton) are in a rut grieving the loss of a child; the woman copes by chatting in an online support site chat room and the man copes with online gambling. And they are nearly bankrupted by identity theft. The man investigating their case (Frank Grillo) has a high school-aged son (Colin Ford) whose friend (Aviad Bernstein) who convinces him to play a prank on a classmate (Jonah Bobo) using a fake Facebook profile. The prank goes so far that the kid is humiliated enough to attempt suicide, putting his family in a tailspin: a sister (Haley Ramm) who thinks she's to blame; a mother (Hope Davis) who is frustrated with the father (Jason Bateman) obsessing over why his son would do this instead of actually spending time at the hospital with him.

In the meantime, in the least-directly connected storyline, Bateman's father/lawyer represents a television company whose local reporter (Andrea Riseborough) gets in over her head after doing a story on an online sex worker (Max Thieriot) who helps recruit minors into the business.

Although Theirot has a look that makes him perfectly cast as his particular character, the sex worker storyline is perhaps the least essential in this interweaving collection of stories. After all, it's his character, Kyle, that we meet in the opening scene, bringing in packages from the front door of the communal house he lives in, passing them out to other sex workers throughout the building, in some cases interrupting their shows. As such, Disconnect starts off feeling a little forced, a bit too on-point with the whole "online" thing.

But, as with all the other story threads, even this one goes in unexpected and ultimately satisfying directions. Rubin, thankfully, allows the issues these people face to remain nuanced, and refrains from drawing clear moral lines. Today's technology has created new ethical choices, with no easily delineated answers. That is the world this film depicts, in ways that occasionally come close to being disingenuous but never crosses the line. In the end, there is a surprisingly genuine sincerity here, and a warm heart at the center of all these mobile electronic devices.

Hope Davis, Jason Bateman and Haley Ramm are victims of surprisingly common circumstances in DISCONNECT.

Overall: B+
Leave a comment