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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David Owen is as mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. What he's mad about is car alarms. Car alarms that go off in the middle of the night, or when he's trying to put his colicky baby to sleep, or when he's making love to his wife, or when he's just this close to grasping a particularly dense passage in a treatise by Hegel. After years of putting up with this ubiquitous urban din and vainly pleading with the authorities to do something about it, David finally resorts to vigilantism, smashing out the windows and dismantling the alarms of the offending vehicles, even going so far as to leave a calling card in his wake identifying himself as The Rectifier. Soon the mysterious noise-fighter has achieved near folk-hero status among his fellow Manhattanites and become a true thorn-in-the-side to the city's unctuous mayor, played amusingly by William Hurt.
Sort of a dark comic, upscale version of "Taxi Driver," "Noise" is a rage-against-the-machine fantasy that chooses as its target the relentless cacophony of city life. David, who's a successful attorney in his day job, isn't quite as off the rails as Travis Bickle, but there are times when his obsessiveness begins to border on the psychotic. Is David suffering from mental illness or is he simply acting out against the impotency and inadequacy he feels in all areas of his life? Or does he just get off on hating and being angry all the time? Whatever the underlying psychological reason, once he establishes himself as The Rectifier, David develops a whole new outlook on life. And who among us can't identify at least to some extent with David's frustration, for don't we all have something that forever gets under our skin and that we would do just about anything we could to get it to stop? David just happens to be the one person to actually act on that impulse.
Written and directed by Henry Bean, "Noise" is a satire of metropolitan neuroticism performed in a minor key. Tim Robbins carries the film with his understated portrait of a man wound up so tight that he threatens at any moment to completely unravel. He receives solid support from Bridget Moynihan as the wife who can't understand why the man she married has suddenly turned into a raving lunatic, and Margarita Levieva as an attractive newspaper reporter who uncovers The Rectifier's true identity and wants to explore what really makes this explosive man-of-the-people figure "tick."
The humor isn't always as uproarious as it could be, but everyone, not just city-dwellers, should find something to appreciate in David Owens' amusingly extended rant.
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