Director: Henry Alex Rubin
Writer: Andrew Stern
Cast: Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton, Andrea Riseborough, Alexander Skarsgård, Max Thieriot, Colin Ford, Jonah Bobo, Haley Ramm
Ben Boyd (Jonah Bobo) is a bit of an outcast in school, especially Jason Dixon (Colin Ford) picks on him and even goes so far as to create a fake facebook profile of a girl in love with Ben. Meanwhile, Jason’s dad Mike (Frank Grillo) investigates the identity theft that happened to the Hulls after Cindy Hull (Paula Patton) chatted with somebody about the loss of her child. Nina Dunham (Andrea Riseborough) is also involved in chatting – with young sex worker Kyle (Max Thieriot) who she’s trying to win for a story for her news station.
Disconnect thinks that it’s a film about the disconnect caused by technology. But as technophobia gets the better of it, it loses coherence and works against its own point.
Disconnect wants to show how dangerous technology is – over the internet, it’s so easy to have your identity stolen. To exploit sex workers. To seduce and trick young people. And anyway, while we’re all busy to look at our phones, the world passes us by. Which is all kind of true, but it’s also so skewed and one-sided that it isn’t true at all.
The thing is as hypocritical and narrow-minded as this kind of argument is, it can’t really withstand any kind of logical narrative. So while they’re screaming about the alienation via technology, they show us a couple that can’t even look at, let alone talk to each other in real life – but the woman finds a meaningful connection via chat. They show us two boys truly connecting via chat (even if one of them has a fake profile) which falls apart when real life crowds in. It shows us a father who is so obsessed with keeping his son from dangerous technology that he doesn’t realize what’s going on in his life at all. We get a mother who doesn’t even notice her son crying despite them being in the same room and their general communication being technology-free. I could go on. But the fact of the matter is that the film shows generally alienated people and tries to pin it on technology, completely ignoring the benefits technology has in that regard.
Finally it reaches the riveting conclusion that people sometimes just need to touch each other, even if it’s a punch in the face. If they only talk to each other face to face, everything will be fine, even if there are clearly mental health issues involved (which are probably also caused by the stress from technology). But some harm caused by technological alienation just can’t be undone. Bleargh.
It is disappointing – because the cast is good. You could have used to the set-up and the characters to tell great stories. But instead you get a film that practically clutches its pearls the entire time. And I have no interest whatsoever in that.