CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
Film Review: Contemporary Society is Caught Online in ‘Disconnect’
CHICAGO – “Disconnect” is a punch in the gut, the backlash of our current technology, and a film that could have happened yesterday. It is a trenchant cautionary tale, warning us about the excesses of every blinking screen and “smart” device that supposedly is making our lives easier, but can just as easily become instruments of destructive. It is about how we live now.
Three intertwining stories about cyber-attacks and online consequences are passionately written and acted. Jason Bateman, for example, takes a break from his smarmy guy character to portray a distant father that learns a harsh lesson about that distance, and creates an empathy that displays surprising dramatic chops. When living within our cyber-selves, the theme of the film becomes about the “disconnect” that is created, in conflict with our real selves. It asks the questions about who we are when hidden behind the digital screens, and what responsibility we actually have to the relationships beyond the screens. And most importantly, what does our identity mean in the age of multiple passwords, anonymous postings and hours spent online?
Rich Boyd (Jason Bateman) is a busy lawyer married to Lydia (Hope Davis), with two children, Ben (Jonah Bobo) and Abby (Haley Ramm). Ben is a withdrawn 15 year old, lost in the angst of his own shyness on the outside, but with an inner passion for music. His geek status riles some school bullies, and they create a fake girl (popularly known as “catfishing”) to try and seduce him. The reserved kid falls for his new “friend” in a big way.
In the meantime, there is an ambitious TV reporter named Nina (Andrea Riseborough), who is getting too close to a story about chat room pornography, gaining trust from a victim of it named Kyle (Max Theiriot). And a married couple (Alexander Skarsgard and Paula Patton) find their savings wiped out by a cyber thief – and the wife may have exposed them. All three of these stories run concurrently, commonly bonded by how they originated online.
Photo credit: LD Entertainment