In director Henry Alex Rubin’s involving ensemble drama Disconnect, we follow the lives of several people in three distinct story threads—all with the commonality of how the Internet affects the real human connection and compassion that people can have toward one another.
In one story, we meet two prankster teens: Jason (Colin Ford) and Frye (Aviad Bernstein). Both boys end up targeting a fellow classmate named Ben (Jonah Bobo)—a kind-of emo recluse—for a heartless prank: they invent a fictitious girl on Facebook who likes Ben. Ben’s father, Rich (Jason Bateman), is an attorney who spends the family dinner focused squarely on his phone and his job.
In the second thread, we meet Nina (Andrea Riseborough)—a local TV reporter who attempts to do a story on a teen Internet sex model named Kyle (Max Thieriot) and expose the seedy world of online child pornography.
Lastly, there’s Cindy (Paula Patton) and Derek (Alexander Skarsgard)—a young couple who recently lost their baby, which leads Cindy to find solace in a personal chat room with a man who lost his wife. The couple’s fragile, uncommunicative marriage leads to more troubles when their identities are stolen on the Internet—quite possibly from Cindy’s online chats.
All three stories interconnect in some way—and all of them engaged me from beginning to end. It’s heartbreaking to see and realize just how cold of a force the power of the Internet can have on people’s lives. All Jason and Frye had to do to destroy a classmate’s life was all through the power of social media (we hear on the news from time to time about real-life online pranks and bullying among teens). Instead of truly wanting to save a young man from a life of degrading himself online through pornography, Nina sees first the glory of a story that can land her on CNN. And rather than deal with their grief together, Derek turns to online gaming while Cindy expresses her emotions in a chat room with an unknown man.
The entire cast is excellent here and the stories provide a great dramatic challenge for all involved. It’s nice to see Bateman take a stab at a more dramatic role versus the usual comedies he’s featured in. Patton is sympathetic as a young mother in deep mourning who yearns to talk to her distant husband.
Overall, the film reminded me a great deal of director Paul Haggis’ 2005 film Crash—a polarizing film to many, but one I found compellingly excellent for its high emotion and multi-layered stories. Similar to Crash, when the stories of Disconnect were about to reach their emotion-filled conclusions, I was near breathless during each one.
For an engaging and riveting drama about the lives of people affected in one way or another by the lack of emotional and real-human connection on the Web, Disconnect comes highly recommended and it will surely be a film you won’t soon forget.
4 out of 5 stars
Disconnect is a multiple-story drama revolving around a group of people searching for human connections in a modern and overly Web-influenced world.
For more on Disconnect, visit the official Web site.