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In long flashbacks, David Owen looks back to when he lived in Manhattan with his wife and baby. The unnecessary noises of the city interrupt his life to the point that he takes a baseball bat to the windshield of cars whose alarms are blaring. After a few arrests, his wife kicks him out. On his own, he learns to avoid arrest and leaves a calling card as "The Rectifier" when he breaks into an offending car. Gruska, an enterprising young reporter, tracks him down. He tells her his story, they become lovers, and she organizes a petition drive for a ballot initiative to ban car alarms. The mayor becomes the Rectifier's bête noire. Can David fight City Hall and win? Written by
Henry Bean based David Owen on himself. In real life, Bean broke into people's cars to disable their noisy alarms. He was eventually arrested and jailed. See more »
See this guy? I know this guy. He's a car thief. He knows that most car alarms operate by a simple electric sensor. Jiggle the door, you complete a circuit, and trigger the siren.
I've been stealing cars since I was 14, and the truth is, alarms make my job easier not harder. Say somebody is walking by and sees me fiddling with the ignition.
[in car with alarm going off]
So sorry ma'am. These stupid alarms, ya know?
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This is an interesting idea for a movie, as it deals with a situation we can all relate to: who hasn't, at least every now and then, faced the frustration of being awakened by a car alarm that goes off for no obvious reason in the middle of the night? Here, David (played by Tim Robbins) decides to do something about it. He becomes "The Rectifier" - a guy who goes out and does battle against all kinds of noise - mostly car alarms, but also burglar alarms on buildings, leaf blowers, etc. He smashes cars and windows and becomes a sort of vigilante hero in the process.
This is an interesting study of obsession. David - as is pointed out in the movie - has a strange connection with noise. He both hates it and he loves it. He won't take the simple solution of moving to a quieter area, and in fact - after his obsession leads to him losing his family when his wife walks out on him - moves to a noisier neighbourhood. In that sense, this is about more than noise. He feels powerless to do anything, but as a vigilante he finds a way to give himself a sense of power. In a way there's also an interesting reflection on addiction. How many people simply can't get away from something they're addicted to even though they know there are serious consequences involved? Had the movie chosen to treat this more seriously - even if done, as it was, with a certain comic undertone to it - it would have been even better. Unfortunately, there were some problems with the story and how it was told.
Essentially it begins with David being identified as The Rectifier by a reporter who wants his story, so it mostly gets told in the increasingly cliché flashback style. The movie also weakens significantly when it introduces the petition angle - David decides to go for a petition to put an initiative on the ballot to ban car alarms. The fun of the movie was in him working outside the system, although I recognize the irony that ultimately came from this when the system was used against him to crush the ballot initiative. Still, David was far more interesting as a vigilante. There are also too many unnecessary characters who entangle David in unnecessary relationships (for example, the threesome served no plot purpose that I could discern!) and ultimately distract from the movie's basic point.
Nevertheless, this is both interesting and relevant to modern viewers - and their ears, even if the story might have been better told. 7/10
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