Disconnect Venice Review & Press Conference

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

Consequences of Internet fraud can be equally as dangerous.  A grieving Cindy finds solace on a chat line with Stephen (Michael Nyqvist) while her emotionally estranged husband Derek (Alexander Skarsgard) distracts himself with on-line gambling and silly Youtube episodes of “don’t try this at home”. Her chat line has apparently opened her and her ex marine husband up to identity theft . The Internet once again is a facile vehicle for exploitation of emotions or their distraction/suppression with grave results. Rubin’s camera is matter of fact, almost documentary, in its exposition of how an iPhone can steal moments of sincerity. In one scene, Ben’s sister Abby (Haley Ramm), distraught by her brother’s comatose condition, is being consoled by her classmates during which one of the girls receives a text and insensitively, but nonetheless naturally, confirms a hook-up with a boyfriend.  Abby responds by spitting in her face. This inappropriate moment for iPhone violation struck a chord with the viewing audience – arousing a healthy round of applause at the Venice Press screening.

The power of the Internet and more recently the consequences of the invisible, rapid communications carried on the myriad and ubiquitous handheld devices are only now, two decades in, becoming better understood. Interpreters like Disconnect’s writer Andrew Stern and director Henry Alex Rubin are timely in their reflections as internet use continues to more and more pervade our personal agendas and inform our thinking and actions. The award winning Polish movie, The Suicide Room (Jan Komasa, 2011) with similar themes and a young victim of the particularly unforgiving internet, confirms the increasing global significance of these cyber crimes. Cyber crimes can reach into any home and take the most unimaginable individuals as victims. A cyber murder case in Manchester, England caught the world’s attention as long ago as 2003 because it was so bizarre and unsettling.  “U Want Me 2 Kill Him?”(Vanity Fair 2005) provided an in-depth expose of the case where fourteen-year-old John created several fantasy characters with complex scenarios on a chat line over a period of time, to incite a friend Mark to murder. The victim ultimately turned out to be John himself. The Judge presiding over the case said, “Staggering. Skilled writers of fiction would struggle to conjure up such a plot” but the stories were empty of hope.

Rubin’s film however is much more even handed. Tragic as Ben’s condition is, a series of sincere epiphanies, particularly for Ben’s father, his sister Abby and the ambitious reporter Nina occurs. Cindy and Derek, skirting their own destruction, are jolted out of their emotional inertia.  And while husbands and wives, parents and children, the ostensibly lonely, all re-connect with themselves and with each other, Rubin’s direction and Stern’s script have with deft precision and superb, taut performances from their actors posed the question of how this technology may bring out the best and worst in humanity.

Definitely catch this one at TIFF where it will be shown next.  ’Disconnect’ has a scheduled release date of Spring 2013. Watch for it and don’t miss it. WB

-Alfredo Romano

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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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