'Disconnect' unfortunately lives up to name
I preferred “Disconnect” nine years ago when it was called “Crash.” You remember, that vignette-heavy movie where half a dozen main characters cross paths when their dramatic trajectories unexpectedly intertwine.
This film is about Internet-infused alienation in an anonymous New York suburb. There's a polluting influence that permeates our culture and everyday interactions within society. Let the hand-wringing, brow-furrowing, and deep pronouncements about the true brotherhood of man commence.
Henry Aaron Rubin (“Murderball”) is agile enough juggling the parallel storylines. He cuts the polemic into bite-sized pieces, and keeps us close to the characters with handheld camerawork, generating a sense of anxious intimacy without motion sickness.
A TV news reporter (Andrea Riseborough) chasing a story about underage performers on sex-cam shows develops a complicated bond with her seductive teenaged source (Max Thieriot). Across town, a wealthy lawyer (Jason Bateman) tethered to his smartphone learns how fragile his family relationships are as his wallflower son (Jonah Bobo), tormented by cyber-bullying classmates, is driven to an act of desperation.
In another story stream, a Marine combat vet (Alexander Skarsgard) struggles to salvage his failing marriage. He distracts himself with online gambling while his wife (Paula Patton) pours out her feelings to anonymous members of a grief chat room, ill-advised actions enabling an online predator to bankrupt them. They hunt down a suspect (Michael Nyqvist of the Swedish “Dragon Tattoo” series) but is he really the culprit?
The film is a heavy-handed cautionary tale. Each character learns a lesson, and so do we, and none of it is front-page-scoop material. Are our cyber-gizmos really undermining our values and virtues? People stole, sold their bodies and treated each other shamefully when the cutting-edge communications platform was a clay tablet. Spiritually, we are in Afterschool Special Country.
Bateman, bearded and dour, displays a sympathetic naturalism in a rare dramatic role. He gives us a successful professional who is compassionate and corrupted, likable and full of self-loathing. He shares one of the film's best scenes as he and young Colin Ford, who plays one of his son's classmates, hold an instant-message conversation. It's not easy to make a typing duet compelling, but the rising tide of remorse in each actor's face is undeniably moving.
In a strange, but effective, bit of casting, fashion designer Marc Jacobs plays the sex-cam operation's creepy-yet-humane ringleader. Strong performances notwithstanding, the movie never connects.
Colin Covert is a movie critic for the Star Tribune (Minneapolis).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- DVD reviews: ‘This is Where I Leave You,’ ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘The Skeleton Twins’
- Tis the season: Holiday home video gift guide
- Oakmont’s Oaks Theater owner projects updates will expand presence, use
- Review: ‘The Homesman’ bleak, hard and full of strength
- ‘Birdman’ tops Golden Globes with 7 nominations