The Disrupted

Movie Information

This documentary offers a raw and blistering look at families affected by the disappearance of America’s middle class.
Genre: Documentary
Director: Sarah Colt and Josh Gleason
Starring: Donn Teske, Cheryl Long, Pete Velez
Rated: NR

Directors Sarah Colt and Josh Gleason (PBS’ “American Experience”) have crafted a wonderful, eye-opening documentary about the lifelong struggles of the American worker with The Disrupted.

Focusing on a fifth-generation farmer (Donn), an Uber driver (Cheryl) and a factory worker (Pete) over the course of two years, Colt and Gleason connect these seemingly dissimilar individuals in brilliant fashion through their shared struggles of trying to fight for a better life for themselves and their families in the midst of the ever-expanding corporatization of the American workforce.

Each of these three key players is engaging, and the glimpses of their work- and home lives are full of brutal yet beautiful honesty. The scene-stealer is Cheryl, who’s first introduced sitting for hours in an airport parking lot alongside countless other ride-share drivers waiting for a well-paying fare. Having regretfully not explored the work conditions of Uber drivers before viewing the film, moments like this shook me deeply.

As The Disrupted continues, viewers are introduced to the family members of the three featured subjects — and they prove to be just as fascinating in their own rights. I would be hard pressed to think of anyone who couldn’t identify with at least some aspects of each of these characters’ own anxieties and personal family dynamics, regardless of one’s own political viewpoint.

The feature also largely avoids the “talking head” style of documentary filmmaking that hampers so many nonfiction products. Instead, Colt and Gleason opt more for more of a “fly-on-the-wall” approach, which I greatly appreciated.

The Disrupted further proves to be a marvel of editing with beautiful montages that intertwine the three separate characters’ stories. One Independence Day sequence in which the film cuts among all three families viewing fireworks displays in different parts of the country is one of the most touching and harmonious moments I’ve seen in any recent American documentary.

The Disrupted is a film that deserves to be seen, even if you typically avoid nonfiction works. In the midst of a tumultuous election year, these voices of the disenfranchised need to be heard. In that respect, it’s arguably the most important film I’ve encountered in 2020 thus far.

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