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Public Access
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Reviews & Ratings for
Public Access More at IMDbPro »

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13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Stylish and engrossing, but ultimately disappointing

Author: Ryan Davis from Saco, ME
21 May 1999

I was prepared to really like this movie, seeing how it came from the same writer-director team as my very favorite movie, "The Usual Suspects." I did find the story of "Public Access" interesting, and Ron Marquette, who played Whiley, was quite talented. He did a great job of evoking a strangely menacing air from an outwardly clean cut character. (I was sorry to read that Marquette killed himself after making the movie). The score complemented Marquette's acting and contributed a great deal to the eerie atmosphere of the film. In fact the score was probably the movie's most effective aspect.

Unfortunately, "Public Access" falls apart at the end (very much unlike "Suspects," which brilliantly brings everything together at the end). We never learn why Whiley is trying to bring down the town by aiding the mayor, and we find out even less about where Whiley comes from and where he is going. In an interview, director Bryan Singer has claimed that the character's motives are not important, but I beg to differ. It was impossible for me to feel anything about the character when he is portrayed as nothing more than an enigma.

Still, if you are as big a fan of "Suspects" as I am it might be worth renting "Public Access" to see where some of the techniques used in the later movie came from. For example, all of the following are present in both Singer-McQuarrie productions: a jumbled voiceover with many people talking at once, a montage of shots of key characters, ominous music and an overall darkness of tone. Perhaps the ending of "Public Access" left the two filmmakers feeling as empty as I felt, and set out to blow the audience away with the ending of their next movie.

Had the characters been somewhat more developed and explained and had the ending brought real closure to the story, "Public Access" could have been a very good film. As it stands, I found it rather mediocre, but not without certain merits.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Subtle, Disquieting Story

7/10
Author: Mitch-38 from Houston, Texas
24 April 2000

Drifter rolls into town, and by way of a local access TV show, begins to touch nerves in smug "Smalltown, USA."

Ron Marquette delivers a very strong performance as Whiley Pritcher, the enigmatic drifter. His portrayal is a mix of thoughtfulness and menace.

The director, Bryan Singer, tells the story, slowly, deliberately, layer by layer. A keen eye for rhythm and pacing, for the building of suspense. I found the film a strong cautionary message, for those who foolishly abide blind faith in our elected "leaders."

Compared to his future endeavors, PUBLIC ACCESS is lighter in intensity, yet still strong in effect.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Flawed but interesting debut from the Singer/McQuarrie team.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
12 December 2002

Fans of the brilliant 'The Usual Suspects' will no doubt be curious to check out the first movie by its director Bryan Singer and writer Christopher McQuarrie. While no where near as assured as that movie or McQuarrie's subsequent underrated directorial debut 'The Way Of The Gun', it has enough going for it to make it worth tracking down. Ron Marquette's impressive performance as the enigmatic Whiley Pritcher is by far the best thing about the movie. He displays plenty of charisma and acting chops which makes his suicide a couple of years after the release of 'Public Access' all the more tragic. Pritcher is a stranger who moves into Brewster, a seemingly average small town and begins broadcasting a show on a local public access TV station. His probing into the dark side of Brewster causes a lot of debate and some hostility, especially when he aligns himself with the town's Mayor. So far, so good. The first half of the movie is very well done and makes fascinating viewing. After that, while the mood turns darker and more violent, it also gets increasingly less compelling, and to me ultimately very anti-climactic. Marquette is good throughout but can't salvage the uneven script which doesn't seem to explore the interesting premise enough to make this one anything special. The frequent comparisons to David Lynch circa 'Blue Velvet' are not entirely off-base, but unfortunately 'Public Access' flounders way before it finishes. Nice try though, and still worth viewing.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Definitely worth watching and thinking about.

9/10
Author: sgcim from United States
2 July 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this film on WABC a week or two ago and was very impressed by it. I'm surprised that it hasn't been picked up by Sundance or IFC because it would probably appeal to that type of audience more than a mainstream audience.

The ending is pretty open-ended, which seems to annoy some people, but I think it's pretty clear that Whiley represents a negative aspect of American society that has no tolerance for anything or anyone different from the consensus norm.

At the end, he's just going to move on to the next town and do

the same thing he did to Brewster.

I was reminded a bit of that Twilight Zone episode where the aliens make the electricity go off and on in various small town residents' houses, causing them to turn on each other and kill each other off, one by one.

Things haven't changed that much since then.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

great film under rated

8/10
Author: the.question from England
30 March 2000

I dug this film out at our local video store (no mean feat) and was highly rewarded. This film has been badly under rated, so what if you do not know the underlying motives of the character this makes the film more disturbing in my view. The central role is played excellently

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Exceptional debut from Singer

9/10
Author: brodie bruce (colinhall1@cwctv.net) from Leeds, England
8 August 2001

This is the debut film from Bryan Singer, director of The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil and X-Men. It is the story of a drifter who wanders into a sleepy town and wakes it up. The central character is played wonderfully by Ron Marquette. Singers directing is exceptional, even more so when you consider it's his first feature. Fans of his later work should definitely try and track down a copy of this rarely seen masterpiece.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Quite compelling for a first feature

7/10
Author: Varlaam from Toronto, Canada
13 March 1999

This was the first effort by the creative team behind "The Usual Suspects".

The video provoked a big argument on the chesterfield afterwards, and that's always a good sign.

The film is sort of "Talk Radio" meets "High Plains Drifter", as reinterpreted by John Sayles. That sounds like a volatile mixture, and it is.

Leonard Maltin's objection to the film is ill-founded, it appears; that was the basis for the heated postprandial debate.

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