If you are reading this, the likelihood is that you will be on your desktop PC, laptop, tablet or phone, taking time out from the hectic modern lifestyle to be entertained and informed by a light-hearted film review. The bad news is that this review will not be light-hearted, simply because Disconnect does not lend itself to that kind of approach.
As it is close to being synonymous with modern day life, there is also a high possibility that you will have Facebook or Twitter, communicate online and perhaps even have your own online following. This relatively new online presence that we can now access anywhere (thanks to wireless technology) has changed the way we live. The need, the want or even the craving to communicate electronically means that some people are barely looking away from their mobile phones, closing the lid on their laptop or more importantly, communicating with those to whom they are truly close. While the Internet should help keep people closer together, it can and does drive people apart, to crime and even to self-destruction. Enter Disconnect for an on-screen demonstration.
Three fairly different tales are told during this movie, though there are one or two tenuous links between them. The stories are intertwined as the movie cuts between them in no particular order. The first is about a rather quiet and lonely lad who is cyber-bullied by two boys who create a fake Facebook profile under the name of Jessica Rhony. The victim attempts suicide and ends up in a coma. The second is about Nina, a news reporter desperate to run a shocking story about underage teens working for an online adult video chatroom. However, the FBI is interested in shutting down this website and Nina finds herself in trouble by being too familiar with the source she interviewed. She finds herself confused, suspended and assaulted. The third and final tale follow a couple who are struggling after the loss of their child then go on to have their identities and money stolen online. They have kept their individual online activities private from one another, but all is revealed when an investigator attempts to resolve the case. Frustrated, they try to take matters into their own hands, almost with disastrous consequences.
Well, I did warn you that this might not be light-hearted…
This film portrays online activities drive families apart, but do bring people back together again once there is a realisation of what has been going on. Regrettably, this realisation rarely happens without a serious and potentially tragic cause.
The fact is that my research tells me this film is not a documentary – but it could well be one. Perhaps that is the most touching and scary thing about it. These events can and do happen; they could happen to you next. As such this movie serves as a warning about the consequences of online actions and the harsh reality of what really goes on. The key part is that everyone becomes a victim, either through their own actions or through someone else’s.
Disconnect is fairly slow-paced, a deliberate feature to enhance the characters’ emotions. The cast is excellent with a high standard of acting making every word meaningful and believable. The soundtrack does a great job of pushing this further and the absence of music is used effectively to generate those ‘awkward silences’. This movie is not just seen and heard, it is felt by the audience and this is what makes it so good. It didn’t have a big budget, there were no elaborate explosions or dazzling special effects, but it still delivers drama through its storytelling and clever direction.