The internet is easily one of the most ground breaking innovations that the world has ever seen. Since its inception, it’s made Earth smaller by growing larger and stronger while becoming an exceedingly important aspect in the daily lives of billions of people from all over. Not having it around is nearly unthinkable for many as it’s used to connect with family, friends, business partners and even strangers. While it can do all of that and much more, it can bring a great level of interference to those very same aspects of life if someone gets pulled in to a point where they are unable to disconnect.
In some instances, we find that this revolutionary tool that was made to help us connect creates an inability to disconnect as it seems to feed a need that some may have or develop. The internet’s version of the world may be more comforting and empowering to some while disrupting the actual and/or potential connections that build and stabilize what’s been around for longer than any of us have been breathing. In a sense, you can say that the internet may seemingly allow people to find themselves, but it’s actually causing people to do the exact opposite.
Losing one’s self in an alternative universe may seem like a good idea that delivers comfort, but the truth is, you may be just hiding from a life that forces you to see or feel things that you choose to consciously or unconsciously ignore. Take Cindy Hull (Paula Patton) for example. She’s a woman who’s going through difficult times in her life. Her marriage to Derek Hull (Alexander Skarsgard) is a fractured one and the world-wide web provides her with a place where she can face her issues while not actually ever confronting them. Like drugs, alcohol or other addictive substances, her use of the internet grants her a chance to experience temporary relief from the misery that she can’t stand to acknowledge.
People like Cindy aren’t the only ones who find a place to exist on the electronic locations of the internet. There are people like Kyle (Max Thieriot) who earn a financial living behind this screen. In his case, it’s actually more like being in front of the screen. He and many other youngsters spend their time assisting their faceless customers in making their fantasies a reality. He works on an illegal sex website in America that’s impossible to locate and has become quite a success. Many of his co-workers are underage and live a lifestyle that sees them staying with a man who took them from the lonely lives they knew and gave them a home that’s similar to somewhat of a small community.
While these teens who were in desperate need of a helping hand may appreciate what he has done for them, most people on the outside looking in would simply see what he offers as a seductive dose of exploitation disguised as something less harmful. As a reporter, Lydia (Hope Davis) is one of those people who isn’t fond of what these kids are being asked to do and is going to dive headfirst into an investigation that brings her face to face with Kyle. She knows that this case is as provocative as it sounds and that can’t be anything, but positive for her career in the world of the modern media.
In the opposite of a world where the light always has a potential to shine at any moment, is a kid who is your typical loner. His name is Ben and he does his own thing as he’s moving to the sound of his own drum. He doesn’t bother anyone, and he wouldn’t exactly be considered popular by any standard. But for him, it looks as if his time of being alone could be coming to an end when he meets the girl of his dreams on Facebook. Seeing as he’s an outcast who doesn’t get much attention from his workaholic father Rich (Jason Bateman), this could open up some doors for him as he may be able to branch out and share parts of his life with another human being like he wants to.
Along with Mike, a former cop (Frank Grillo) who now specializes in helping people battle against the many of the dangers that can affect anyone on the internet, all of these stories find ways to intersect in order to speak of the dangers in life that can be presented through world wide web. From the start, the audience is introduced to a world that some of us may already know, but it’s a world that’s uncommon and somewhat deviant for many who may not.
Henry Alex Rubin’s Disconnect is a film that definitely takes a number of risks during its nearly two hours of running time. It’s a flick that may be what some would consider to be a rarity in this age of modern American film, since it’s not kid safe in any way. You’ll see this in its opening scene that puts us in a position that’s exclusively for adults just like the rest of the film and it’s certainly difficult to take your eyes off of once it all gets going.
It’s because of this mature approach and the acting that’s involved, that the audience gets a powerful assortment of collective stories that are very believable for the most part. From that standpoint, Disconnect doesn’t appear as if it has any interest in pulling any punches and maintains a legitimate level of strength that can be felt by just about anyone with a pulse. There have been and will be films that are just as strong if not stronger, but on its merit alone, Disconnect creates its own space with a quality and substance that can’t be dismissed.
My only real complaint here, is that Disconnect in fact does eventually pull a couple of punches along the way. It doesn’t severely hurt the film, but it does make it seem like Henry Alex Rubin may have been afraid to go all the way in some instances. In doing so, it takes away at least a small bit of the edge that exists, We’ll just say that it’s still stays a forceful and effective piece of work, but it doesn’t feel as rugged as it should have when you get a glimpse at all of the content that is being put to use. It may be a small thing in the minds of most and it could leave a positive feeling of intrigue. With me however, I do wish that they pushed the envelope a bit farther.
Outside of that and the unlikely manner in which some of the characters are connected, Disconnect is something that should be easy to connect with if you have the desire to watch something that’s thought-provoking and made for people who are old enough to do whatever they please in private and in public. Hopefully, this movie will get the recognition that I feel it deserves and it can get its viewers to do a bit of thinking and talking amongst themselves after the fact. It’s one of those kinds of movies, and I don’t think it should be treated any other way.
Director: Henry Alex Rubin
Film Length: 115 minutes
Release Date: April 12, 2013
Distributor: LD Entertainment