Rated: R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, language, violence and drug use - some involving teens. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 12, 2013 Released by: LD Entertainment
An ambitious multi-stranded drama for our often disconcerting, distressful digital age manages to overcome an anachronistic, categorizing quality.
Disconnect has an unsubtle if potent ironic pull as if Crash were filtered through the more recent Catfish at least to show how the swift, modern attachment of issues like identity theft and bullying through the devices like iPhones, laptops, and Facebook can connect us in unexpected ways.
Under the convincing direction of Henry Alex Rubin (Murderball), the interrelated storyline from tyro Andrew Stern uses Jonah Bobo's alienated music-listening teen Ben Boyd as the focal point. Through "liking" Jessica he turns out to be a victim started by fellow student Jason (Colin Ford).
While Jason feels driven to be in contact with Ben's lawyer father (Jason Bateman of Identity Thief) his own dad, former cop turned on-line investigator (Frank Grillo) is on a case that has financially crippled an angry veteran (Alexander Skarsgard of Melancholia) and his wife Paula Patton (Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol and Precious) already reeling from the loss of their child.
A disconsolate nature via Skype and other techno-savvy imagery into "waking up and smelling the coffee" has the nubile Kyle (Max Theriot) with a webcam handler (designer Marc Jacobs) gaining the attention of a rising local journalist Nina (an effective Andrea Riseborough of the sci-fi adventure Oblivion, Welcome To The Punch, Made In Dagenham) who can't realize the ramifications of exposing her story.
Rubin's way with the cast often plugs into a palpable social realism as well as moral relativism from strangers a part of cybercrimes. While Michael Nyqvist as a person of interest and Hope Davis (Real Steel) as Ben's mom are among those given too little to do, Bateman shows that he can do more than comedy (Horrible Bosses or branching out into more straight-man territory than even the spry Juno). Grillo also handles a less subordinate role with surprising success, and Bobo and Ford evince much promise especially in a moving hospital scene.
Even with a title like Disconnect there is something telling even without the richer, more expressive payoff of Paul Haggis's LA-set ensemble drama which starred Matt Dillon, Sandra Bullock, and Don Cheadle. It's hard to break out of that shell but, especially through the bullying angle, this crafty cyberspace account is an indictment of contentment.