A Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic grade in the mid to high 60s obviously signifies substantial resistance, even if the majority of critics are with you. It also means, in strict high-school exam terms, a failing grade. This is what’s happened so far with Henry Alex Rubin‘s Disconnect — a RT 69% rating, a 65 from Metacritic.
It feels odd when a third of the critics disagree with you, but it happens. All I can say is that I have a very clear and hard-won understanding of what a failed film plays like, and Disconnect, trust me, does not deserve that label.
Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern isn’t as much of a fan as myself, but he allows that despite an element of “sheer contrivance” (which is there in a sense but doesn’t get in the way as the multiple-overlapping-plot-strand drama is a genre and as valid as any other reality-reshaping approach or film style) “the film is impressive all the same, a bleak vision of life in the internet age as an asocial network where faceless predators abound, heedless kids live secret lives, everything is phishy until proven otherwise and quests for love or intimacy lead to loneliness or grief.
“Movies about intertwined lives often suffer from the gimmick that’s supposed to sustain them: Two examples of recent years, Crash and Babel, piled on fateful connections to the point of self-parody. Disconnect suffers less in that department because the gimmickry is accompanied by a valid if familiar irony — the technological revolution that brings us together in ways that were unimaginable to previous generations also separates us by replacing face-to-face encounters with texts, tweets, webcams, emails and disembodied chats.”
Here’s how I put it on 4.3:
“Disconnect works because it delivers in the writing, direction and acting. Andrew Stern‘s screenplay feels credible and compelling and is very finely threaded, always pushed along by believable turns and real-seeming characters behaving in what they believe are their best interests. Rubin’s direction is unforced naturalism par excellence, and the result is a story that always seems steady-on-the-tracks — nothing ever feels like a stretch (except perhaps that one moment at the very end when slow-mo kicks in). And the performances are honestly inhabited and true-feeling and just about perfectly rendered.”