NOISE. 2007
Director: Henry Bean

Director: Joel Schumaker

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

NoiseA political satire of vigilantism against the raucous toxic noise of New York city, Noise (2007) stars the talented Tim Robbins as the manic vigilante.

Famed as "The Rectifier," he becomes a folk hero as the furtive destroyer of automobiles that wake people up with their alarms. The seedy mayor (William Hurt) regards him as a mortal enemy.

Well acted, but unevently written, David's insane rage against car alarms is easy to relate to. His equally crazed obsession for damaging offending vehicles, is all easy to applaud as fantasy.

The tale is crammed with pokerfaced comedy & could almost fool a viewer into believing it's intelligent. And if the comparison were Michael Douglas in Falling Down (1993) which begs the viewer to side with a man who has completely lost his mind & ready to avenge himself on the whole world, then Noise is more thoughtful than that. But that's still not smart enough, & for ability to entertain, Falling Down was better just for lacking pretention.

Falling DownDouglas as William "D-Fense" Foster, formerly just a pushed-around divorced & lonely nobody who snaps snapped under the unjust miseries of daily existence.

A maddening Korean shopowner triggers a level of rage he's never before let escape from his high-blood-pressure life. He soon after scores a handy bag of guns & sets off like Virgil on a journey through Hell, a one-man terror-brigade in the streets of the L.A.

He's over-reacted big-time & we shouldn't side with him. Unlike "the Recitifier" he's not actually right about things, but his feelings are recognizable. Mike Douglas has also subdued his actor good-looks & we should be regarding him only as a nutter, but his averageness & unpleasant lunacy really does become something we totally comprehend.

Meanwhile a cop (Robert Duvall with a performance as calm as Douglas's is crazed) on the brink of retirement discovers himself closing in on the "one case too many" that might be his last.

He, too, like ourselves, begins to "relate" to the pathetic dufus with fire-power who just wants to get to his daughter's birthday. He may be the only cop, however, who would be sorry if it all ends in "D-Fense" going down in a blaze of gunfire.

We soon care quite a lot about the aged cop as well as the dorky madman, lending to genuine suspense since we don't want either character's demise. If there can be a happy ending for either of them, it will be such a relief.

Falling DownThe simple humanity in getting the viewer to care, simultaneous with our darker desire to see excessive vengeance against life's small injustices, is the hallmark of a very good piece of writing & acting, even if the result is a "commercial" film.

Noise unlike Falling Down most certainly wanted to be intelligent, but ended up being pompous. Apart from the high degree of pretension which needed to be weeded out of the script long before cameras rolled, absolutely nothing suprising occurs -- a weak script strengthed by good performances.

David's fate & function in the noisy city works out logically & transparently for the first half of the tale, then it derails into didacticism.

It's quite amusing when its not being just a spoken political tract & educational rant about the hurtfulness of noise, but as it progresses it becomes increasingly about educating the viewer, & as boring as lectures tend to be.

The script seriously needed to be gutted of its politicisms & faux intellectualism in order to focus more on character & behavior. Absolutely nobody needed to be lectured about how noise is burdensome; we needed only to see what David could do about it.

He loses his wife (Bridget Moynahan), his kids, his excellent job; he gets a criminal record; his circumstances devolve into a world where his last remaining companion is the reliable constancy of noise.

By the time he becomes the infamous Rectifier, he is devoting his life fuill time to damaging automobiles as well as storefronts where burglar alarms are let to ring at all hours. The mayor goes to war against the vigilante, & it might've been a better story if the Rectifier had just gone down in a blaze of angry glory, tilting to the bitter end against windmills.

Instead, he scores a relationship with a level-headed woman (Margarita Levieva) young enough to be his daughter, & experiences the sexual fantasies of the increasingly lame screenwriter (Henry Bean who also directs, & who based the script on actions he personally got arrested for pursuing).

She leads him to a a political initiative to ban car alarms & he nearly goes sane. But when the mayor stymies his near-success "within the system," he goes to new levels of vigilantism targetting the mayor, reenacted on screen more in the spirit of slapstick than suspense or viceral pleasure for the viewer, who is apt to be mainly exasperated.

The "happy" conclusion awaiting David is most unsatisfying. It's sufficiently stupid that the film left me with a sense of its mediocrity. Still, by & large, it was enjoyable even if way too "the politics" & full of itself.

And I happen to know how it should have ended: as peace & happiness envelops him, he takes a hatpin & slowly, slowly, slowly jams it in his ear. The sound of the city is halved. And as his manic glee rises to increasing heights, we watch in abject horror as he even more slowly pierces his other ear. Now that would've been a good film.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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