Have you ever forgotten your phone and felt astonishingly lost without it? Have you ever forgotten to check your email only to do so and have about 50 or more waiting to put a damper in your day? Too many times a day we check our phones, log onto Facebook, watch YouTube and sit at our computers without ever really giving it a second thought. Do we share too much information on the internet? Do we become cruel and cyber bully people? “Disconnect” answers these questions and ultimately shows us what the consequences of unplugging from the social world and into the online world can be through an intelligently written story.
“Disconnect” follows the story of several people all out of touch with their friends and family around them and each looking for solace and other fulfillment online. The story involves a lawyer (Jason Bateman), a cop (Frank Grillo), a few high school kids (Colin Ford, Jonah Bobo, Aviad Bernstein), a journalist (Andrea Riseborough), an online adult entertainment star (Max Thieriot), and a grieving couple (Alexander Skarsgard, Paula Patton) all thrown into different cyber scenarios and forced to deal with the consequences of their actions. It’s only when their digital lives begin adversely affecting their real ones that they begin to understand the power of both connections.
“Disconnect” is Henry Alex Rubin’s first feature film and it’s an intensely strong and bold debut for a director who’s previous works include only documentaries. The film is poignant and has its own uniquely disconnected feel as it moves between each story to seamlessly intertwine all the threads in a powerful and heart wrenching ending. Stories like the ones told in this film make you think and leave a lasting impression and impact on viewers.
The movie is meaningful because at some point or other (whether it’s a few times or a hundred times a day) we all become immersed in and disconnected from reality when we use our computers and cell phones. These actions alienate the people closest to us in a way that leaves our minds elsewhere and detaches us from reality. Rubin connects with that aspect and realistically makes “Disconnect” engaging while sending a strong message about people’s codependency with the cyber world.
Rubin really accentuates the usage of gray-scale lighting to set the atmosphere and tone of the movie. From the very first scene, I was swept into the story and didn’t “disconnect” (pun intended) until the credits rolled. The characters are relatable and humanly flawed in their thinking and actions. And while their lives are significantly changed by their actions online, they are also drawn together by the repercussions, proving that there are pros and cons to every situation.
The entire cast is outstanding and brings the drama without being overly theatrical. As individual thespians, their work is good, but as an ensemble cast, their work is great. Every time one actor has conflict with another is when the movie really shines. Colin Ford is the true standout in the film, however. He’s a young actor, but his abilities and mature acting far exceed his age. What was also wonderful about the characters was that none of them were written in a way where you could completely hate them, mostly due to the very realistic portrayal by the cast and strong screenplay.
“Disconnect” is compelling and will stay with you long after you’ve seen it. So, if you are interested in seeing a thought-provoking and intelligently written movie, give “Disconnect” a chance. For all its glum and depressing portrayal of social media, there is still hope and lessons to be learned from Rubin’s important and oftentimes forgotten message.
3.5star
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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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