Up to this point in his career Henry Alex Rubin is probably best known for the documentary "Murder Ball" (2005), which if you haven't seen it yet should be considered a must see film. So I was intrigued to see what he would do with a feature.
The film starts with Kyle (Max Thieriot), who works at a live web cam chat room and meets Nina Dunham (Andrea Risborough) online who is an ambitious journalist working on a news story that could change her career. The legal counsel for the news station is Rich Boyd (Jason Bateman) who can't find the time to communicate with his family. His wife Lydia (Hope Davis) is the glue in the family of two teen children Abby (Haley Ramm) and Ben (Jonah Bobo) who hold different social statuses at school. Also at school is Jason Dixon (Colin Ford) who likes to pull pranks on others as he rebels against his father Mike (Frank Grilo) who is a former cop in the computer crimes unit. Mike is working for Derek Hull (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife Cindi (Paula Patton) who had their identity stolen by someone that Cindi met in a chat room support group for people who have lost a loved one and are not finding the emotional support they need.
The acting in the film from top to bottom is absolutely on point. Each brings a level of emotion that is truthful and challenging. Even though each doesn't have a lot of time on the screen, there is just enough to convey how real the situations are to all of us. My only complaint about the film is with the editing as it really plays with the audience during transitions betwen the stories.
As a social commentary, the film points out that it is amazing how clueless people are, like when you see a person picking their nose in the car thinking that nobody sees them. The lack of self awareness and security people have in social media is scary. We have lived in this technological environment for a while now and it is shocking how little we have matured with the responsibilites that come with using the technology. Everything we do, someone else can see. We should consider the internet the front door to our house and if we invite others into our house they might just take something valuable to us.
The film deals with some important topics that almost all of us can relate to on some level. Every family says they want to be closer, but what are we doing to make that happen. We don't mean to, but we keep secrets from each other and that pushes us apart. We need to remind ourselves that if we say we have nobody to talk to, you are ignoring the reality that you do have the perfect person to talk to; and that is the person you have a problem with. Nothing ever gets resolved without open and honest communication, and when we forget this and resolve for the quick and easy social media available to us we are not being honest with ourselves or to those we love. Every decision we make has a consequence that we ultimately control.
In the last year there have been stories of Manti Te'o being "catfished" and teens being cyber bullied that lead them to committing suicide. I really liked this film, and encourage those with teens to watch this film together and have a conversation of what it means to them. "Disconnect" is a film that earns all 5 Quacks without any hesitation. I think that the screenplay should be nominated as it is very provaocative and will leave the audience thinking about ways they should disconnect from social media.