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Noise (2007)
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by brianorndorf

"That sound you hear is the scream of bad filmmaking"
1 stars

Conceptually, “Noise” might’ve actually become something raw and momentous. A flustered indictment of urban noise pollution and its effect on a man sensitive to all the commotion, “Noise” has the tools to reach out beyond the screen and explore universal truths on city living and urban survival. However, “Noise” is more content to be a total mess.

Trying to live in peace in New York with his wife (Bridget Moynahan) and daughter, David Owen (Tim Robbins) is instead consumed with the sounds of the city. With car alarms, sirens, and assorted noisemakers making everyday life a living hell, David finds he can’t sit idly by anymore, soon embarking on a vigilante career breaking into automobiles and disabling the appropriate irritant. Branding himself “The Rectifier,” David is only as successful as the law allows, and when repeated appearances in front of a judge take away his illegal upper hand, he soon takes to the street, gathering signatures for an initiative to ban the noise permanently with the help of a comely young admirer, Ekaterina (Margarita Levieva).

See? There’s something pervasive and genuine about writer/director Henry Bean’s idea for the film. Playing off the common dread of hearing the continuous blare of emergency, “Noise” has the narrative verve to transform into a battle cry for anyone who has ever suffered urban aural infestation. What Bean actually does with his gem of an idea is downright criminal. In his first feature film since 2001’s “The Believer,” Bean has found his filmmaking skill completely rusted over. “Noise” isn’t just a bad movie, it’s a shockingly inept one, with tedious tangents and pedestrian directorial choices forming a conga line in front of the camera for an endless 90-minute dance party of incompetence.

The confusion begins early, with Bean establishing a bizarre timeline for “Noise” than features the action leaping back and forth between a ten-year period of time. Of course, David’s appearance isn’t altered in the least, making matters even more mystifying and difficult to follow. Also bewildering is how the film opens as a documentary on David’s vigilante ways, only to find the framing device abandoned after ten whole minutes. Bean is terrific at blowing off audience investment throughout the picture, failing to build David as a unique man with an identifiable problem. Bean would rather make fun of David, exploring his violation through ineffective sexual performance humiliations and comical interludes where the character imagines numerous resolutions during his law enforcement interactions.

Picturing himself a Jonas Salk figure, sent to battle the forces of government (embodied here by William Hurt and William Baldwin) as he tries to eradicate noise, David finds his family stripped away as he’s consumed by his crusade. Enter the character of Ekaterina, and any chance of the film to form a lasting impact is thrown out of the window.

Ekaterina is the first to sniff out the truth behind David’s actions, and she soon becomes his lover, encouraging the man’s fight against the impossible, helping him grease the legal wheels when working above the law finds only assured prosecution. Played repellently by Levieva, Ekaterina is a fantasy figure, not a character of any possible authenticity. She cools down David with her sexuality and Russian purr, jumping right into bed with him without much of a buildup, and soon encouraging Penthouse Letter threesomes for her new man to enjoy. This film is about noise, right? Bean is hopeless, indulging in some toothless stabs at philosophy while working in dialogue centered on vaginal appreciation at one point. Suddenly the film is on planet Zorp Zorp and there’s no return flight home. Ug, what the hell was Bean thinking?

Touches of whimsy and a lame effort to remove the film’s lone question of logic (why doesn’t David just move?) make “Noise” even more unbearable, amputating all tension as David launches a final campaign for auditory peace by fighting fire with fire. If there’s any comfort to be cradled at the end of this confused, humorless picture, it might be this: it took Henry Bean seven years to follow-up his first movie. If there’s any luck, it’ll be 2015 before we have to suffer through another one.

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originally posted: 09/12/08 23:22:28
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For more in the Australian series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2007 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2007 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/01/07 Dylan Original without a predictable moment.Superb acting. All sights and sounds mood evoking. 5 stars
5/28/07 BertRito Brilliant. Compelling from start to finish. 5 stars
5/02/07 Waxlion Fantastic Film, hard to place but realy well made. 5 stars
5/02/07 MilllyMolllyMandy unclassifiable thriller/comedy which is at first annoying and eventually totally winning 5 stars
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  DVD: 27-May-2008



Directed by
  Matthew Saville

Written by
  Matthew Saville

  Brendan Cowell
  Maia Thomas
  Henry Nixon
  Nicholas Bell

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