Judge Paul Pritchard can't stand bad movies, but he hasn't smashed his DVD player...yet.
The Difference Is I Do Something About It.
Writer/director Henry Bean proves to be his own inspiration for his second directorial effort, Noise. Weary of the racket that fills the skies of New York, particularly car alarms, Bean would break into the car and disable the alarm, eventually leading to his arrest. However, since he's the writer of Basic Instinct 2, it's debatable whether this was Bean's biggest crime.
Facts of the Case
David Owen (Tim Robbins, The Shawshank Redemption) appears to lead a normal life: married, with one child and a well-paid job; he is, initially at least, quite unremarkable. But David leads a double life. Sick of the constant noise that engulfs New York City, David becomes "The Rectifier," breaking into any car whose alarm goes off, disabling the alarm and leaving a calling card under the hood. David's crusade draws opposition from the mayor and, as his campaign against noise escalates, causes tension in his marriage.
The initial freshness of writer/director Henry Bean's Noise quickly gives way to generic storytelling, as the film's premise is spread too thin, allowing aimless characters and subplots to enter the fray and losing the message.
Beginning strongly, Noise introduces us to David Owen (Robbins), an apparently everyday guy who, sick to death of car alarms going off for no good reason, has created an alter ego for himself: "The Rectifier," who exacts revenge on those who pollute our ears with excessive noise. Accompanied by Robbins' narration, we are taken back to how David's love of New York was gradually worn down by the day-to-day din of city life. Sharply written and funny to boot, the film's first act is a blast, and, for a moment or two, it seems as though an undiscovered gem is being unearthed. It's around the time Robbins' narration abruptly stops that standards slip. As soon as David's personal relationships begin to take center stage, Noise begins to lose its quirkiness, becoming just another movie that not even the hint of a ménage-a-trois can save from mediocrity.
It's understandable that with a central premise that's unable to sustain a 90-minute movie, the screenplay needed padding out, but the additional material is hit and miss, with more filler than killer. David's relationship with his wife, Helen, played by Bridget Moynahan (I, Robot) is indicative of the issues that plague Noise. With David's obsessive and bizarre behavior increasing, his relationship with his wife deteriorates rapidly. Rather than deal with this in a satisfying way, the screenplay sees David forming a relationship with young Russian student Ekaterina Filippovna (Margarita Levieva, The Invisible), leading to the aforementioned ménage-a-trois. While a little nudity and talk of the beauty of each of the ladies' respective genitalia may be an amusing diversion, it leaves the relationship between David and his family hanging somewhat. More successful is the introduction of Mayor Schneer (William Hurt, The Incredible Hulk) and his chief of staff, played by William Baldwin (Flatliners). Acting as the immovable object to David Owens' irresistible force, Mayor Schneer is a wonderful creation, who makes it a personal mission to bring down "The Rectifier." Over the top and bordering on insanity, Baldwin's Schneer helps hold viewer interest as Noise begins to fall apart at the seams.
Just like Tim Robbins, whose excellent comedic roles are often forgotten, Hurt and Baldwin have excellent comic timing and bounce of each other perfectly. In fact, the cast as a whole is excellent.
Henry Bean's screenplay contains plenty of well-crafted scenes that are well-realized by his direction. Frequently Bean will introduce background noises that gradually swell until they become so dominant as to make the dialogue inaudible. It's a clever touch that attempts to make the viewer more empathetic towards David's cause, but ultimately feels a little gimmicky when David's reasoning for his war on noise proves to be patchy at best.
Noise comes to DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay. The films' 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is sharp, while the Dolby 2.0 audio track is worthy of praise. A commentary provided by writer/director Henry Bean leads a decent set of extras.
Rebuttal Witnesses Indeed, for every good thing Noise does, it slips up in another area, meaning the film never comes together into one cohesive whole, leaving it a rather frustrating experience. It's certainly worth watching, but more of a rental than a purchase.
A simple yet worthy message is lost beneath the racket. You'll watch it once and kind of enjoy it, then quickly forget about it and never have the urge to watch it again.
Guilty of losing its spark too soon and becoming mediocre when it could have been much more.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• Audio Commentary with Director Henry Bean
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