A lot of technological advances in communication are designed to reduce physical distance and connecting people together. But there’s an unintended consequences that follows and probably unavoidable one at that. And isn’t its cobra effect just ironic?
Disconnect told three separates storylines that have very little overlap with each other. The first story is a husband and wife who found themselves as victims of stolen identities from an internet fraud. A reporter trying to uncover a story behind an adult website by seducing one of its performer. A supposedly innocent catfishing prank invites morbid consequences. Letterboxd summarize Disconnect as “multiple storylines about people searching for human connection in today’s wired world […] the stories intersect with surprising twists that expose a shocking reality into our daily use of technology that mediates and defines our relationships and ultimately our lives“. If the intent of the filmmaker is to create a film that criticize the cobra effects of our increasingly digital lifestyle, well, i respectfully disagree.
Disconnect is first and foremost a human drama. My favorite storyline is the catfishing prank that leads to suicide and the fathers effort to cope with their sons. I think it would be more interesting and deserve to be explored a little more than what it got in the film. Jason Bateman is a surprise in this particular emotional role of a father who’s grieving over his son. It is interesting to see how the tragedy transforms the dynamics of the family and how they relate to each other. The use of text displays on screen as the characters engage in the online world fill the screen with long silences and enable us to see the subtle emotions at play underneath the surfaces was a nice touch for the film. The stylish cinematography is complementing the mellow mood of the film itself, culminating towards that breaking points where emotions reach its equilibrium, artfully delivered through poignant slo-mo that adds to the melancholy of the event.
The stories are not fresh and it tries to take technological advances as some kind of red threads between the three stories. But it does not criticize the use of technology itself, if it is then the adult-website storyline is lacking that aspect. It tries to suggest that we become more and more removed from our real world by finding a semblance of human connections through online forums, chats, or engage in virtual sex through webcams. True, there are younger generations of digital natives who live day by day with their smartphones attached to their palms and their eyes glued to their screens, more and more people become immersed in their own version of virtual reality, heck i’m engaging in mine right now by writing on this blog. But Disconnect failed to address this by focusing too much on the personal drama of it’s character. Especially in the adult website story that i felt is the most removed thematically. It did not engage me in the stories, but merely using these techs props as somekind of gimmick.
I was amused by Marc Jacobs acting as a pimp in the film, and saying that as one of the highlight, show just how much the film underwhelm me. Disconnect is not a bad film per se, it tries hard but it just did not deliver for me. I applaud its style and its open-ended-ness though. If i want to watch a take of how technology cobra effect on humanity, i think i’d choose Black Mirror any day now.
GENRE Drama, Thriller
DIRECTOR Henry Alex Rubin | PRODUCER Mickey Liddell, William Horberg, Jennifer Hilton| WRITER Andrew Stern | MUSIC Max Richter | CINEMATOGRAPHER Ken Seng | EDITOR Lee Percy | STUDIO LD Entertainment, Wonderful Films | DISTRIBUTOR LD Entertainment | COUNTRY United States | RATING R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, language, violence and drug use – some involving teens | RUNNING TIME 115 minute | RELEASE September 11, 2012 (TIFF)
STARRING Jason Bateman,Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Andrea Riseborough, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Alexander Skarsgård, Max Thieriot, Marc Jacobs, Jonah Bobo