Sitting through Terrence Malick's To the Wonder is like watching a stranger sorting through a packet of old photographs, observes Kurt Loder. To the photographer, the snapshots recall a story. To us they're disconnected episodes in an unknown narrative. As a cinematic technique, this willful ambiguity, dispensing with the building blocks of plot and character, is trying, and we feel a tide of boredom rising. But it's Terrence Malick, so we hang on.
In Disconnect, on the other hand, first-time feature director Henry Alex Rubin looks at the dark downside to the ubiquitous presence in our lives of laptops, iPads, smartphones and such, meaning it offers little in the way of hot cultural news. But the movie is nevertheless gripping, filled with rich performances by a top ensemble cast and powered by a script that punches home its points with memorable detail.