The sad fact that contemporary technology has crippled human communication, intimacy, and privacy is nothing new. While Henry Alex Rubin‘s film Disconnect doesn’t provide any revelatory insight on this subject, it is a realistic drama that strongly reflects one thing society doesn’t want to admit: no matter how tech savvy and sophisticated we think our gizmos make us, mankind will always be a race of hopeless suckers. Predictable but never disengaging, Disconnect stars Jason Bateman, Andrea Riseborough, Max Thieriot, and Alexander Skarsgard. More on Lionsgate’s Disconnect Blu-ray after the jump.
Kyle (Thieriot) is a young cam-show stud living with several underage performers. Ambitious TV reporter Nina (Riseborough) begins a friendship with him in hopes of cracking a provocative story about the seedy world of online porn. While Kyle is getting naked online, Derek (Skarsgard) and his wife Cindy (Paula Patton) are having their identities stolen. They’ve grown distant as a couple since their child died shortly after being born and the devastating loss of their life savings may split them for good. There’s is the most melodramatic story that feels like a poor soap-opera at times, but Skarsgard is also great to watch.
Meanwhile, introverted teen Ben (Jonah Bobo) gets roped into an online Facebook relationship with a girl that (of course) doesn’t exist. His catfishers are a couple of punk-ass bullies from his high school and their prank ends exactly how you think it would. Ben’s dad, Rich (Bateman), who couldn’t care less about his quiet son’s personal life before, decides to do some online snooping in an attempt to find out who was messing with his son.
All of the relationships and friction laid out above began online. And they’re all completely believable situations in which the Internet is the consistent factor. That being said, all of the stories are rather predictable. The unsurprising way it all unravels doesn’t hurt the film though, since the actors really elevate the material. Bateman gives one of the best dramatic performances of his career as the work-consumed lawyer who’s thrust into his son’s personal affairs. He was screwed by online crime in another movie, Identity Thief, so overall the Internet has been his arch-rival this year.
One of Ben’s bullies is played by young actor Colin Ford, who delivers a heartbreaking performance. Ford’s story is crucial to the film, as it displays why some kids get off on fucking with people online. What drives a kid (or anyone for that matter) to consciously hurt someone using the Internet? Through Ford’s character, Disconnect does a great job presenting a sad and plausible reason.
This is Oscar-nominated director Henry Alex Rubin’s (Murderball) first fictional feature and much like his documentary work, he takes an observational standpoint with Disconnect. There’s no preachy message shoved in your face – he simply holds a mirror up to our all-consuming cyber culture. Of course, nothing good comes from the online world in the film, so I’m sure he’s hoping people will put down their cellphones for a while after watching.
Anchored by its strong performances and engaging story lines, Disconnect is a terrific reflection of our modern online lifestyles and the unruly relationships that come from it. I t’s not going to blow anyone’s mind with its message or predictability, but it’s a worthy rental.
Disconnect is presented in 1080p HD in 1.85:1 widescreen. The film has a washed-out look to it at times and the details don’t really pop besides during close-ups. There’s nothing exceptional about the transfer to mention. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio isn’t very immersive since the film is mostly quiet moments of dialogue. While it’s not a dynamic sound, it’s perfectly fine for the film.
Henry Alex Rubin’s commentary track is pretty lousy. He narrates a lot of the action – just saying what he sees without providing any insight. One entertaining note is that he admits to pissing in someone’s orange juice at boarding school.
The 27-minute Making Of feature charts the film’s origins, which began back in 2008. Rubin talks about his research and how he approached the material as being about people, not technology. Actors and producers also give their two cents about the film.
There’s also a brief look at the recording of the song “Nature of Daylight” for the film, by composer Max Richter.