Director: Henry Alex Rubin
Starring: Jason Bateman, Haley Ramm, Frank Grillo, Alexander Skarsgard
It’s not often, as a viewer, you find a film as gritty, dark, hulking, and real as ‘Disconnect’. When I first clicked play, I knew one thing: Jason Bateman was the headliner, so chances are, at least I’d get some hearty laughs. Not the case. What I got instead, was a lot of genuine weight about tough subject matter that I wasn’t expecting. The thing about it though: it wasn’t a let down. The film digs into three perilous arcs, separately, but congruently – cyber bullying, underage teenage sex-cams, and identity theft. It’s a whirlwind of fictional investigation meets pseudo-factual exploration.
‘Disconnect’ explores the three storylines as they interact and overlap during the course of the film. The first revolves around a musically-inclined, teenage boy who gets bullied over the internet into a mournful suicide attempt. This part was extremely hard for me to watch. Cyber-bullying is a very real occurrence in today’s society, and it really is bullshit that people find it funny or amusing to rip others apart online. I genuinely hurt for that character, as I’ve had friends experience that pain. I’d give anything to end cyber-bullying, and rid the world of the cowards who hide behind their computer screens.
The second arc revolves around a couple who, through mutually hazardous dealings on the web (chat rooms and online poker), get their collective identity stolen, tearing their relationship apart as they go bankrupt and try to deal with their issues. I don’t know what that’s like, but on par with the rest of the movie, it was pretty heavy too. The third arc is about a teenage boy who, at a young age, began working as a “cam-boy” for an online sex-cam website, simply because it was the only life he ever knew. It’s nuts that this is a thing; adults who act as predators on young, confused children, is just disgusting and inhumane and needs to be stopped.
Maybe the real beauty of ‘Disconnect’ is that it might spark some of you into action. Maybe the highest capability of film is to generate real debate on hard topics. I fucking hate cyber-bullying, and this film makes me want to start a national campaign against it, like many others have before me. It terrifies me what other good people, especially kids, are going through out there because of some horrible people. Maybe in shining some light on identity theft and the effects on a family is horrible for you. Maybe underage sex profiteering disgusts you as much as it does me. It’s all fucked up and sad and distressing, but authentic because that kind of shit happens every damn day somewhere across the globe.
‘Disconnect’ is not a film you watch to enjoy the aesthetic or to be entertained. It’s a monologue which brings to the fore the feeling of agony others can feel from being taken advantage of and abused. I respect Jason Bateman so much for making this film. It needed to be done.