September 22, 2008



Reviewer: James van Maanen
Ratings (out of 5): ***½

NOISE: Scourge of Urban Life

While Noise will confirm many of the prejudices country folk feel about the big city, the movie should have those of us who actually live in the latter frothing at the mouth within minutes. Why? Because writer/director Henry Bean's (The Believer) new film delivers up a picture of one of the more crazy-making though least recognized (it is not, after all, mugging, murder, robbery or rape) urban problems: noise pollution. Due to his clever premise, an almost believable follow-through and a first-rate sound department, Noise makes the most of the titular annoyances and ends up seducing you into cheering for a vigilante like never before. (It helps that our "hero" is fighting noise, rather than a bunch of Death Wish-inspired rapists/murderers.)

Tim Robbins gives one of his best performances here (which is saying a lot, I believe). This would be reason enough to watch, but Bean's second film is actually better than his first: Lighter on its feet, it allows comedy, satire and a enjoyable melodrama to evolve from the story. Bean lets you see the gradations in all of his characters and events, which helps make them both bizarre and believable. William Hurt as a very nasty but smart New York Mayor, Bridget Moynahan as Robbins' wife, and Margarita Levieva as his paramour all offer sterling support.

Bean builds his film in a very clever fashion, starting in the middle, switching to the past, moving forward to mid-point and then proceeding full-steam ahead. He lets you understand the Robbins character's nuttiness, at the same time as you are empathizing with the guy. By the film's climax, there's a giddy feeling, leaving you with a smile and not a little sense of "There, but for the grace of God..."

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Posted by cphillips at September 22, 2008 9:57 AM
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