A man who is being driven crazy by the noise in New York City decides to take vigilante action against it.A man who is being driven crazy by the noise in New York City decides to take vigilante action against it.A man who is being driven crazy by the noise in New York City decides to take vigilante action against it.
The reason for that is double standardization, and Henry Bean's Noise sins greatly in applying hypocrisy as one of its primary assets. Having expressed this sentiment, Noise is nonetheless a smart, entertaining movie doing more to promote understanding of the harm done by noise than most authorities ever could, and for that we heartily recommend it. It's also got Tim Robbins in the main role, and he's as awesome as ever.
In this one he plays David Owen, a successful professional and family man who relocates to Upper West Side Manhattan from suburban environs. Initially, the NYC apartment experience works well for Owen, his wife (Bridget Moynahan) and daughter (Gabrielle Brennan). Over time, though, he begins to get increasingly irritated with car alarms going off unattended, to the point of literally ruining his life. Precipitated by this trauma, and by the indifference to his plight offered by those around him, a transformation occurs, one in which docile David Owen becomes a rampaging anti-noise vigilante with no qualms over taking matters into his own hands.
But this is where Bean and his movie verge into hypocrisy-land. While the main character crusades against noise makers, he only seems to care about inadvertent machine-generated noise like alarms and backup beepers. Yet, his own wife is shown to be a chamber musician who regularly holds recitals in their living room. Are we certain the neighbors approve? Therefore, the overt conduct of this film is too limited in scope to a specific kind of noise, while perhaps tacitly endorsing a much more malicious form causing misery to millions.
Later the story does acknowledge the individual nature of suffering from noise – the protagonist encounters those who complain about manhole covers, drum playing neighbors, boomboxes and other problems. He also hooks up with one of the noise makers, done by lovely Margarita Levieva, who becomes an unlikely ally in struggle to get city authorities to recognize the plight of the noise-terrorized citizenry. This leads to a borderline-racist parody of Mayor Bloomberg done by an overly smug William Hurt.
In showcasing a progressive struggle, the movie does a lot of good – there's a very efficient portrayal of the uncaring legal system's impotence in enforcing noise regulations, something that needs to be shown if change is ever to materialize. Owen ends up achieving a modest victory, and the movie concludes on a positive, satisfying note.
Noise goes by quickly and says quite a bit for its modest timespan. Tim Robbins, as usual, does a wonderful job as a person suffering from torture at the hands of stupid, monolithic factors he can't control in a world that no longer bothers with traditional civilities. Anyone who's ever been in that situation will see themselves in Robbins' character right away.
The narrow scope Noise maintains most of the time, the hypocrisy and the mere token mention of the broader issue of noise, however, take away from the sense of achievement here. As it stands, the film comes too close to discussing a mere pet peeve rather than a far reaching social sickness, but even so, this is one movie you should watch.
- May 19, 2009