Dir.:Henry Alex Rubin
A young couple grieving over the death of a child fall victim to cyber theft as the wife finds comfort in a chat room for those who have lost a loved one. A sensitive schoolboy looks for love online with tragic consequences as his friends take advantage of his loneliness. And an attractive TV show host becomes involved with an underage webcam sex performer.These are stories we have all read multiple times in newspapers.I must have read those stories online, but maybe I read it distractedly on my phone screen while riding a train on the subway.Maybe I was trying to read the sex chat happening on the phablet screen next to me.The internet is a mixed blessing and nobody knows that better than parents of young children worried about them turning into cyborgs.This is why the story about the boy getting humiliated and bullied online resonates most among the three.
The title of the film is both a statement of how things are inside families and also a solution.You can remove the disconnect by disconnecting our gadgets but we already know that don’t we?The director Henry Alex Rubin who directed the acclaimed documentary Murderball harnesses the power of cinema to tell this triptych of tales with urgency and compassion.In a sense it was easy for this film to go wrong, so close is this material to all of us that a single misstep could have broken its spell.
Disconnect is an ensemble drama and a bit of a hyperlink movie but mostly it tells three reasonably independent stories and links them for the sake of economy.The performances are all very good, the camera work is very classy and the music even better.The film gives us some genuinely tense moments and presents the dangers of living online.To its immense credit it never shies away from the usefulness of the internet or the possible benefits of being perpetually connected.What I liked most about Disconnect is that despite being the low-budget first feature film of a new director it does reasonable justice to its dense material and becomes a refreshing piece of sensible cinema amidst the mindlessness of the summer blockbuster season.A nice touch is the use of the number 486 which is a series of slow outdated processors, as the address of the boy who thinks his physical attractiveness to anonymous people will last forever.
The omnipresence and omniscience of the Internet is changing us in little ways that we don’t notice.The greatest problem is one of reconciliation between a generation that has only embraced the net as adults and those who never knew a world without Google search and Facebook.And the speed with which we are handing our life over to the internet is both dazzling and confusing.For all its synthetic nature it works on our weakest spots.If you allow yourself to reexamine your online behavior and those you love the film would have succeeded in its task of triggering debate. Are the mistakes we make online not very similar to what we make in real life? It’s just that when we make them online its very easy to do it under the fake security net of privacy.
The huge levels of concern over online security, privacy, safety of children, cyber bullying,child pornography etc. all find neat treatment here.If you want to know the worst case scenario brought to life with characters that we care about Disconnect delivers the goods.We always had our anxieties, it’s just that we can upload them intently via 3G , 4G or LTE.As the status update of my friend read ” Relax, people are not as happy as they look on Facebook.” The internet is routinely called a disruptive technology.Disconnect powerfully illustrates that “disruptive” cuts both ways.