The Disrupted

Oct 26, 2020

Without mighty contemporary challenges like Covid, this doc still does a competent job depicting the decline of the middle class.

The Disrupted

Grade: C+

Director: Sarah Colt, Josh Gleason (Co-director)

Screenplay: Documentary

Runtime: 1h 28m

Rating: R

By: John DeSando

Three middle-class Americans are fighting to retain a good life once theirs is receding because trying to get jobs or losing their jobs puts them in a desperate employment race. Don is a struggling Kansas farmer who also has cancer, both challenges even when farmers are receiving billions in subsidies and Obamacare has brought health insurance to millions who did not have it before.

Cheryl is finding being an Uber and Lyft driver less promising than when she started. Pete, an ex-con, rehabbed himself with a job from 3M for 12 years but its closing has brought him in combat with his own attitude and a discerning wife.

While the doc, quietly and carefully directed by Sarah Colt, doesn’t harangue about the death of the middle class, these three subjects speak loudly about their loss of money and pride. Yet, this film is apparently produced before the pandemic and maybe even before Donald Trump’s worst days. In that regard, it’s challenging from our current perspective to commiserate with subjects depicted before America’s current dark days. In other words, things got much worse after the doc was done

With corporations like 3M coldly laying off and farmers forced off farms, not to mention Lyft and Uber preventing their drivers from becoming like real employees, the middle class is suffering an it’s not even in virus times. However, the film also tries to show individual responsibilities such as Ned’s post-prison attitude or Cheryl’s unfounded dreams of success.

Still, the doc doesn’t demand our sympathy; rather it ends up showing how the American dream itself can be derailed without a virus or weak leadership. In a way, The Disrupted is about as existential as a doc can get. And that’s good.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at