Disconnect [2013] ★★★

original1Here’s a cautionary tale that starts in your face, and keeps coming at you right through the closing credits. That’s no easy achievement, especially when it’s a movie that deals with the dangers of social media (you heard me). In the style of “Magnolia”, “Crash” and “Babel”, first time feature director Henry Alex Rubin and his writer Andrew Stern weave many stories into the narrative. In one story, Jason Bateman and Hope Davis’ teenage son Ben falls victim to a cruel prank in which two boys pretend to be a girl liking him on facebook. In another story, Alexander Skarsgård and Paula Patton discover that his identity and bank account have been stolen by an internet thief. And finally there’s TV reporter Nina Dunham (Andrea Riseborough) who decides to tell the the story of Kyle (Max Thieriot), an underage online sex worker working for a cyber-pimp. Rubin explores this subject with intelligence and feeling for the ethical and moral issues involved. Another filmmaking team could have taken the same material and played it more dramatically; it’s the lack of Hollywood touch that I admired most about this movie. The ending is a bit low-key, but has staying power. For Stern and Rubin that counts as mission accomplished. For audiences, it’s that rare thing these days: a movie that really matters.

Rating: 3/4

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