Disconnect (2012)


Director:  Henry Alex Rubin
Cast:  Jason BatemanHope DavisJonah Bobo, Frank Grillo, Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton
Plot:  A drama centered on a group of people searching for human connections in today's wired world.

Genre:  Drama / Thriller
Awards:  -
Runtime:  115min
Rating:  M18 for sexual content, some graphic nudity, language, violence and drug use - some involving teens.

Wires connect us to one another.  We live in a wired world, yet we feel disconnected.  Therein lies one of the great ironies of the 21st century, a time and space characterized by widespread digitization and digitalization.  While it gives us democratic access to the freedom of thought, a (dis)connected world hides our true intentions yet revealing our true selves to ourselves. 

Disconnect, a multilayered narrative in the vein of Paul Haggis' Crash (2005), calls into question the efficacy of communicating via a screen interface, and suggests reconciliation for a better future.

Featuring an ensemble cast whose names I will skip for it will fill an entire paragraph, Disconnect works well within its flaws.  It is a film whose sum is lesser than its parts, though its parts are strongly developed and receive near equal treatment. 

The picture feels more confident exploring individual stories, rather than achieving some kind of grand gesture of intertwining fates and circumstances.  As a result, Disconnect slightly pales in comparison to films such as the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu multinarrative features (i.e. Amores Perros, 2000; 21 Grams, 2003; Babel, 2006) and Haggis' Oscar-winning film.

Writer Andrew Stern provides a screenplay of uncommon depth, in particular using text to convey a range of emotions and thoughts.  The cinema screen temporarily becomes an additional interface as text rolls off its flat, audience-addressing surface. 

Something as intimate as an online instant chat between two parties becomes known to hundreds of cinemagoers, highlighting the double-edged sword nature of the medium - for better or worse, everything and everyone is connected to each other.

Director Henry Alex Rubin brings all the elements together, formulating a dramatic feature that shifts gears into a pseudo-thriller that doesn't quite work out.  When everything inevitably comes together, the implosion of emotions such as anger, frustration, helplessness, guilt and regret resonate in a diluted manner. 

In other words, the cross-cutting impact of the various stories is muted.  However, Disconnect remains engaging for most parts, if not for the characters, then for the performances.

Verdict:  Works best in moments rather than as a sum of its parts, this multinarrative drama-thriller is the digital era's answer to Paul Haggis' Crash (2005).


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