Disconnect was shown at the Venice Film Festival today and even though it is “Out of Competition”, it has been getting some really great reviews!
Unfortunately, Alexander Skarsgård was not able to attend so there will not be any red carpet photos of him.
Just seen Disconnect at #Venice2012 – amazing film.Completely compelling and heartbreaking. Had to contain my sobs at the end.
#Venezia69. Disconnect: bellissimo film sulle conseguenze delle proprie azioni su internet. Video chat, chat line e social network.
From The Hollywood Reporter:
VENICE – It’s a given at film festivals as much as in 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 multistrand 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.
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.
The network’s legal counsel is Rich Boyd (Jason Bateman), who has more urgent issues with his troubled 15-year-old son Ben (Jonah Bobo). An aspiring musician and friendless high school loner, Ben is targeted for humiliation by skater buddies Jason (Colin Ford) and Frye (Aviad Bernstein), who invent a female handle and begin messaging him. They start by admiring his music and then take it sexual, sending a naked photo and requesting that he do the same.
Jason’s father Mike (Frank Grillo) is a widowed former cop from the computer crimes unit, now working as a private investigator. Victims of credit card fraud, ex-Marine Derek (Alexander Skarsgard) and his wife Cindy (Paula Patton) hire Mike when the police prove unhelpful and the couple’s savings and assets are taken. Retracing Cindy’s participation in an online grief support group following the death of their baby, Mike believes he has found the identity thief. But obtaining concrete proof proves too slow for Derek, who confronts the man (Michael Nyqvist).
The ways in which technology has polluted communication for these people are laid out with exacting thoroughness in Stern’s script. Rich is constantly consumed by work calls and emails at home; Ben is so plugged into a headset or a laptop that he rarely speaks; Cindy shares secrets about her marriage with a screen moniker.
The thematic points are made clearly, with well-sustained tension and no shortage of dramatic impact. It’s just that it’s all a bit obvious, becoming self-consciously operatic when Rubin crosscuts among the slow-mo violence that brings each story to its climax. And the ensuing moral lessons and re-established human connections are a bit too neat and tidy.
There are compelling performances to bolster the material, however, including from some of the young cast members.
Thieriot ably straddles the lines within Kyle. Like his flirty online persona, appearing in just underwear and tattoos, he has learned to use sex and cockiness to get by, but shows vulnerability when he starts to believe there might be another way forward in life. Ford’s Jason early on reveals flickers of a conscience to distinguish him from more callous Frye. Looking like a young Paul Dano, Bobo makes Ben a heartrendingly fragile outsider, and as the popular sister who beats herself up about ignoring his pain, Haley Ramm has affecting moments.
Standout among the bigger names is Bateman, whose obsessive determination to find the trigger for Ben’s desperation drives the developments of that strand. Hope Davis is given too little to do as Rich’s wife, concerned only about her son’s health and not with assigning guilt.
Riseborough is stuck with a character that becomes less credible as her interaction with Kyle continues after the news report. But Grillo is a strong presence, and Skarsgard, considerably drabbed down from his True Blood look, conveys the simmering anger of an Iraqi vet reduced to being a thankless paper-pusher. He and Patton effectively draw the lines that isolate them in their grief and then the slow thaw as they face a fresh crisis together.
In a curious bit of casting, fashion designer Marc Jacobs registers convincingly in his couple of scenes as Harvey, the sleazy surrogate parent of the sex-cam models, luring them off the street with the promise of shelter and income.
While the city locations are somewhat anonymously anyplace, cinematographer Ken Seng gives the film a suitably cold, almost grim look, echoed in Max Richter’s mainly electronic score. Extreme closeups and onscreen text exchanges are used skillfully to engage us in the cyber dialogue, and editors Lee Percy and Kevin Tent fluidly keep each of the stories in equal play.
Venue: Venice Film Festival (Out of Competition)
Production companies: Wonderful Films, LD Entertainment
Cast: Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton, Andrea Riseborough, Alexander Skarsgard, Max Thieriot, Colin Ford, Jonah Bobo, Haley Ramm, Norbert Leo Butz, Kasi Lemmons, Aviad Bernstein, Marc Jacobs
Director: Henry-Alex Rubin
Screenwriter: Andrew Stern
Producers: Mickey Lidell, Jennifer Monroe, William Horberg
Director of photography: Ken Seng
Production designer: Dina Goldman
Music: Max Richter
Costume designer: Catherine George
Editors: Lee Percy, Kevin Tent
Sales: Exclusive Media
No rating, 116 minutes
Another article from the Huffington Post UK:
Connecting with Disconnect
By Rollo Ross 9/5/2012
If I can tear myself away from Facebook for just one minute, I might be able to write this post.
I really want to because I have fallen in love with a movie here at the Venice film festival but it is quite difficult to focus.
Oh. Hang on. I’m just going to retweet something that says the only thing wrong with this movie is it’s not in the festival’s competition.
But yeah, there’s this film called “Disconnect” and it got a 10-minute standing ovation at its world premiere here, and it is so well deserved. It’s lean, strong and packs a punch.
It follows three interweaving stories of people whose lives are affected in one way or the other by a fascination with the internet and who each need to get more in touch with the people around them rather than just interfacing with the world wide web.
There’s a TV news reporter (played brilliantly by an almost unrecognizable Andrea Riseborough), a live porn artist, a bullied emo kid and his family, a cyber detective, and finally a grieving couple who discover they’re victims of internet fraud.
While I check my gmail, I’ll let its director Henry Alex-Rubin (who I’m having lunch with on the Excelsior terrace) tell you about the film:-
“Well I suppose, thematically the film is about loneliness. Everyone has experienced loneliness and technology is a tool which medicates loneliness and I think all these characters are in search of something and they don’t want to be so alone and want to feel connected. ”
“The movie is an exploration of technology like any tool that can bring people together and separate them too. And at the end of the movie everyone is physically together whereas at the beginning of the movie they are separated.”
Alex-Rubin is an Oscar-nominated documentary maker and for this movie, he even cast a ‘shadow cast’ which were real life counterparts of the parts in the movie that the actors could relate to.
All the characters in the movie are naïve about the dangers of the internet – except one. Frank Grillo plays the cyber detective of “Disconnect” and his shadow cast member was the head of the Cyber division of the NYPD.
Sorry, Henry, I’m going to call him to discuss this. You just eat your sandwich or check your e-mails or whatever.
“He can’t stress enough that the best resource to prevent hacking on your computer is a small piece of tape that you should always have over the little camera on your computer. You should always have that. I find that to be fascinating and 25,000 people a day get their identities stolen. Now that’s a lot of people. And that’s in the United States and not the world. And it’s not that hard to do. Just think of all the information we give away. We give it away. It’s scary.”
I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a movie that actually portrays our reliance on modern day technology as it really is.
I could tell you more but I need to put an on-line bet on who’s going to win the Best Film at the Oscars.
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