Sunday, September 16, 2012

TIFF 2012: Frank Grillo in "Disconnect"

Director Henry Alex Rubin's Disconnect is a heart-pounding drama that explores both the allure and dangers of the Internet in a small community.

[Pictured above: Frank Grillo plays one of the teen pranksters' stern father in Disconnect]

An estranged couple attempts to seek solace online when the husband (Alexander Skårsgard) gambles uncontrollably on a poker site and the wife (Paula Patton) searches for comfort in an online chat room. Soon after, their identities are stolen resulting in massive fraudulent credit card debt. Is the culprit the wife's online friend?

Meanwhile, two teenage boys pose as a pretty girl online to manipulate an unsuspecting schoolmate to email a naked picture. After they leak the revealing photo to the entire school to humiliate him, the devastated boy takes matters in his own hands, permanently rocking his family.

An ambitious news reporter is charmed by a handsome teen on a porn site and attempts to make a name for herself by covering his seedy story. But when the FBI forces her to reveal her source to bring down the illegal website, it could have life threatening results.

Disconnect is an absorbing film of solid intertwined stories that reveal how the anonymity of the web can have very real and harmful consequences.

Rubin's direction of this cautionary tale is first-rate. In lesser hands, Disconnect could have been relegated to a Hallmark television movie of the week. Writer Daniel Stern expertly delivers real empathetic characters and profoundly engaging stories. The performances are impressive, with special mention going to Jason Bateman as the humiliated boy's father (watching this movie, I concluded that Bateman is one of today's most underrated actors).

Indeed, the film's tense-filled climax, presented in extreme slow motion, is particularly impactful.

Disconnect should not be missed.

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