Disconnect Venice Review & Press Conference

Posted 11 years ago by myetvmedia


The invisible world of the Internet and its chat-rooms claims its victims in a very real world. Cyber sex, cyber fraud and death are real dangers. Lives are interrupted, dismantled and irreparably damaged.

Henry Alex Rubin’s drama Disconnect is one of the surprises at this year’s Venice Film Festival. Gripping, timely and tragically important, this is Rubin’s feature film directorial debut, although Rubin’s previous achievements with his Oscar nominated documentary Murderball (2005) shine at every turn in the film. In Disconnect, Rubin cleverly weaves together three very different stories about cyber criminals and their victims that will resonate with many. Screenwriter Andrew Stern (Return to Me) and a high caliber cast under Rubin’s direction provide a painful but hopeful exploration of how communication through the cyber world has indelibly changed the way we communicate with each other and the consequences. Adding to the splendid authenticity of Andrew Stern’s  script are superb, taut performances by the ensemble cast, most particularly Max Thierot, Jason Bateman as Ben’s fatherColin Ford, Andrea Riseborough and Frank Grillo. Watch out for world-renowned fashion designer turned actor Marc Jacobs as Cyber-sex pimp Harvey – he portrays the character perfectly.

Rubin’s young protagonist Ben (Johan Bobo) victimized in a seemingly innocent teenage Internet prank by a high  school classmate Jason (Colin Ford) attempts suicide. Jason’s father Michael played (to an uncanny perfection) by Frank Grillo is a retired cop turned detective. He in turn is investigating an Internet identity fraud case where a couple Derek (Alexander Skarsgard) and Cindy (Paula Patton) grieving over the loss of their young child have been victimized. And to complete the triad, Ben’s father Richard Boyd, a high-powered litigation lawyer, is defending a television station has exposed a website that exploits teens through cyber sex. Reporter Nina (Riseborough) has revealed this news with the help of sex worker Kyle (Max Thierot).

In each story the Internet and chat-rooms are vehicles that both hide and expose the truth. Ben, a loner, succumbs to the affections of Jenny, a girl that doesn’t exist. Strangely and ironically however, Jenny’s creator Jason (Colin Ford) strikes a bond with Ben through their chat line. They empathize with each other that their father’s are ‘dickheads’ and their parents  generally oblivious to their reality and who they are. Rubin spends considerable footage and perspective on the teen characters, their point of view and intersection with the adult world. He understands that it is their generation that has evolved with the Internet as an extension of who they are. In one compelling moment, Kyle confronts Nina with the question of who is being exploitive: Kyle’s cyber pimp played with appropriate sleaze by Marc Jacobs or Nina through her cable network? Kyle may not be just a victim but finds purpose in ‘turning on’ his clients through a chat line. There is an entire Internet economy that while unsavory is immediately available and thriving while exploiting and financially supporting youth.  Rubin’s film asks the important question about personal consequences.

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Disconnect Venice Review & Press Conference

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Frank Grillo and Henry Alex Rubin in Venice


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