Disconnect, directed by Henry Alex Rubin, provides a peek into the consequences of today’s technology-prone world. An intense and dramatic interpretation of media culture, Disconnect consists of several stories and subplots, much like the 2004 film Crash directed by Paul Haggis. Unlike Crash, however, Disconnect follows various subplots; those of which never seem to intertwine at any point in the story other than through the theme of disconnecting. The audience is introduced to three extreme cases including cyber-bullying, identity theft, and a breaking news story, all of which have some correlation to online activity. The film often suggests that our lives online determines our lives offline in a very vital way.
The subplots within the story, though dramatic and suspenseful, were somewhat problematic. Each sequence had great potential, thanks to the talented cast, but suffered from quick cuts between subplots and a confusing script trajectory. The downfall in this film was due more or less to the predictability factor. Each situation had a sense of extremity , yet every outcome was anticlimactic. Cyber-bullying and identity theft are prevalent, well-known situations in today’s world; many of which have been made into made-for-television Lifetime specials. Because these issues have already been covered in detail, neither of these particular subplots(despite fantastic performances by the actors, including Jason Bateman)brought anything new to the table. We see the effects of technology within each family’s situation and the toll it takes on their lives, but there are no surprises. Neither the story of cyber-bullying nor identity theft left much shock value or impact.
The uncommon subplot dealt with a local news anchor reporting on an underage sex ring. We see scenes in which the reporter and an online sex worker interact; yet we never truly get to know either character beyond their two-dimensional introductions. This, along with many other important factors, is disregarded in this story. The reporter finds her story by paying for an online video sex chat room, which is possibly the most interesting of all of the plot points within the movie, and yet this is never truly exposed. The characters do ask each other questions about their past and hopes for the future – all of which are sparingly answered or left up to our imaginations as an audience. By the end of this sequence each character remains unchanged and two-dimensional: a ruthless reporter and a naive sexual worker.
Believe it or not, this story’s outcome is not the most anticlimactic in the series of subplots. The only connection these three subplots seem to make is the lack of a resolution. The only aspect of suspense in this film seems to be that the line between good and bad is up for debate and each ending is left to the imagination. In the end, Disconnect is an emotional and dramatic commentary on the Apple™-fed society we live in today. If nothing else, Disconnect succeeds in making you question everything you have done online. The plot is not very surprising and you may not end up being too emotionally invested in the characters. Nevertheless, you will find yourself wanting to run home and delete every social media account you own.