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At a time
when so many movies offer nothing but escape, it’s refreshing to encounter one
that has something to say about modern society, and a great cast to bring it to
life. Written by Andrew Stern and directed by documentary filmmaker Henry Alex
Rubin (Murderball), Disconnect takes a sobering look at the
wide-ranging impact that social media and interconnectivity is having on our
everyday lives. That it manages to do so without ever becoming preachy is no
small achievement.

In one story
thread, Jason Bateman and Hope Davis’s teenage son, a loner who seeks refuge in
his bedroom composing music, falls victim to a cruel prank. Two fellow students
are sending him provocative texts using a made-up girl’s name (with a stolen
picture), in order to lure him on and enjoy watching his discomfort.

Meanwhile, Alexander
Skarsgård and Paula Patton discover that his identity—and their bank
account—have been purloined by a clever internet thief. The cops are swamped
and can’t help on a timely basis, so they hire a private investigator, played
by Frank Grillo, who used to work for the police on this very beat. He opens
their eyes to the perils of exposure on the internet.

Then there’s
Max Thieriot, who performs sexual acts online for a variety of customers, and
attracts the attention of an ambitious TV reporter, played by Andrea
Riseborough. When she pitches an investigative story and uses him as her
source, she (like everyone else in the film) doesn’t think about the potential

Disconnect is tough to watch at times
because it cuts so close to the bone. That’s also why it’s so effective. I
can’t imagine any audience member who won’t relate to at least one of the
characters or the dilemma they face. The cast is excellent, from top to bottom.
Riseborough is a rising star from England who will soon be seen opposite Tom
Cruise in Oblivion; she’s not only
completely credible here but her American accent and demeanor are flawless.
It’s especially rewarding to see Bateman in a challenging dramatic role that
shows just what he’s capable of.

You can view Disconnect as a cautionary tale or
simply become engaged with it as a superior piece of storytelling. Either way,
it’s well worth seeing.


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