Review: 'Disconnect' an earnest cautionary tale
This film image released by LD Entertainment shows Colin Ford, left, and Jason Bateman in a scene from "Disconnect." (AP Photo/LD Entertainment)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — It's a given at multiplexes these days that despite switch-off-your-cell-phone announcements and the occasional grumbling protest, whatever's onscreen will have to compete with tiny pockets of light from audience members unable to stay off their handhelds. Watching those glow patches come and go during "Disconnect" reinforces the film's position on how desensitized we've become to these technological intrusions. Not that Henry-Alex Rubin's schematic multi-strand drama is at all shy about articulating its themes.
Directing his first narrative feature, documentary-maker Rubin ("Murderball") has assembled a solid cast and weaves together the three interconnected stories of Andrew Stern's original screenplay with elegance and efficiency. But this is a film that voices its warning about the hazards of a wired existence with solemn self-importance. It's also quite late in the day to be pointing out that we're so plugged into our devices we often fail to see or hear the people closest to us.
This film image released by LD Entertainment shows Jason Bateman in a scene from "Disconnect." (AP Photo/LD Entertainment)
That's not to say "Disconnect" is without powerful scenes, and a thread about the heedless consequences of cyber pranks among kids on social network sites probably stands to reach more adolescents than non-fiction treatments of bullying.
Nina (Andrea Riseborough) is a TV news reporter investigating porn chat sites that recruit underage teens, many of them runaways. She establishes a connection online with Kyle (Max Thieriot), at first in private chats and then cam-to-cam. They eventually meet and she convinces him to participate in an exposé, promising to keep his identity concealed. But when the story is picked up by CNN, representing a huge professional coup for ambitious Nina, it lands on the FBI's radar, placing her under pressure to betray her source.