JASON BATEMAN ALEXANDER SKARSGARD MAX THIERIOT FRANK GRILLO
ANDREA RISEBOROUGH PAULA PATTON COLIN FORD JONAH BOBOHOPE DAVIS
The most unique aspect of Disconnect is its ability to connect with an audience member in one of the three very diverse but socially connected plots. The film begins like Crash or Babel, cutting between various stories until we see their commonality, which doesn’t take much effort given the title. The internet and how we let it run our lives is the focal point. The script focuses on characters using the internet for money, for their job, to cope, to bully, etc. Then, halfway through the film, the characters become violently disconnected.
Cindy (Patton) and Derek (Skarsgard) are dealing with the loss of their infant; she talks in chat rooms to deal with her pain and he gambles online to make extra money. They realize that their bank account is empty and their identities have been stolen. Rich (Bateman) and Lydia (Davis) are dealing with the attempted suicide of their 15 year old son, whose nude photo was sent to his classmates after he was tricked into sending it by some boys impersonating a girl. And local news reporter Nina Dunham (Riseborough) has discovered a young boy (Thieriot) who is part of a ring of online sex models held up in a house using their bodies and technology to make money for the man who houses them.
If the film has a flaw, it’s the loss of the social message in the narrative, which segways into more of a nail-biting thriller conclusion as we become completely engrossed with these characters and the extremely difficult choices they have to make. The topics presented here should jolt anyone, as we all can identify with fear of identity theft, what is happening to children when parents cannot see, or trying to help someone yet only making things worse. Most of the varied stories come with unexpected circumstances and unpredictable conclusions. The script just seems to forget about the message it cared so much about in the first half and ends without making much of a point. Good thing we are on the edge of our seat and don’t really care.
There are three noteworthy performances in this ensemble cast. We have been watching Thieriot since he was a young boy in The Astronaut Farmer, but he has been stuck in c-rated horror movies like last year’s The House at the End of the Street. This is his best and most complex performance and the transformation of his body is also worth mentioning. The gorgeous Riseborough appeared in last year's Shadow Dancer but more memorably in Madonna’s W.E. Finally, an actor known for his boring consistency with characters, Bateman steps slightly out of his comfort zone in a very emotional and connected performance slightly mindful of Clive Owen’s in Trust.
Final Thought –The most stimulating and memorable film of 2013 so far…
Grade A- By: Dustin Chase
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
This is a cautionary tale(s) for internet users—ordinary, basically good people who can unwittingly make serious errors in giving out personal information. It also speaks to kids who may regard what they do as just kidding around with someone. But there is more to it than just the device. People have a tendency these days to turn to the internet for connection when they feel disconnected at home from a parent, a spouse, or friends. So, basically the bottom line in the film’s series of stories really has to do with relationships in parenting and marriage and those developed in the process of broadcasting a story. Getting caught up in one’s own interests and taking others involved for granted or simply being inconsiderate can create a vacuum where the other turns to whatever/whomever is available.
The writer Andrew Stern has come up with illustrative situations that are heartbreakingly plausible, and the director Henry Alex Rubin and other filmmakers have artfully woven them into a suspenseful drama with substance. Even so, all the characters are familiar to us; we know about cases of social network bullying, carelessness with ID information, and the sometimes exploitative nature of human interest stories. The actors bring them to life in Disconnect so that we care about them and watch carefully to see what will happen to them in the end.
Although Jason Bateman is the advertised star, and his performance is very fine, no one actor stands out. They are all very good, and the cast deserves praise for the ensemble as a whole (casting by Billy Hopkins). The Boyd family has Bateman, Hope Davis, Haley Ramm, and Jonah Bobo. Frank Grillo and Colin Ford are father and son, with Avial Bernstein as the son’s friend. Alex Skarsgard and Paula Patton are a grieving couple who mistake Michael Nyqvist’s character for someone else. Andrea Riseborough is a newscaster who is caught up in the story of young Kyle (Max Theriot) and fails to maintain appropriate boundaries.
The movie makes statements about the frustratingly inadequate bureaucracies like marginally funded police and child protective services, as well as the issue of guns in the hands of people who are emotionally involved in a situation.
Clearly, Disconnect covers a lot of ground, but the minutes fly by as we become completely absorbed in the realistic drama. Grade: A