Tuesday, September 11, 2007


RUNTIME: 105 min.

Imagine the backbencher in your ninth grade who was the unanimous leader of boys, smart, quite bright, outgoing and watched a lot of movies. He was the guy who always seemed to have a grown up sense of movies, a guy who could name films from the past five years as opposed to others who thought Jurassic Park was the greatest film ever made. Imagine that guy, who believed more violent cinema meant good but very lately learnt that the truth was the other way round. Imagine that guy in Planet ‘M’ laying his hands for the very first time on a copy of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window wondering what was so special about this Hitchcock dude. Imagine him watch it and although having not comprehended the beauty of it sending the distress code to the internet for full comprehension. And imagine him, fully ‘enlightened’ making up a story of his own laden with all the ‘specialties’ that all the hardworking film critics have to offer about Rear Window, to impress the girls in his class, and of course the boys too, for the leader’s chair is rocky. He finishes the tale and the audience can muster nothing more than a gasp, and after a while clap. A generation of teens, brought up on awful teen films is suddenly exposed to a thriller with almost no blood and yeah, they realize about a certain guy called Tom who has a weird habit of peeping. And he never does declare the inspiration for his tale, the source quite obvious to the teacher listening secretly and feeling conscious of her own voyeuristic behavior. Guess that is how I would describe this thriller what they call Disturbia, tension-filled quite a bit but ending in a ridiculous mess inspired more from the Jason movies. Is it worth the admission ticket? Of course. Are you going to remember it? Only if you started watching films this February.
More or less a dumbed down remake of Rear Window, as I happened to mention earlier, with a few details here and there with modern technology playing a big part, Disturbia manages to hold your attention but seldom manages to provoke the thought process. Any thematic richness the film boasts of is because of the premise, a wonder that will always be something that will cause a debate. Is voyeurism evil? Is a man, getting entertained by watching the lives of others, rather peeping into them and their privacy guilty of an unsound mental state? I don’t think so, for each and everyone of us would find ourselves guilty of the same at one or the other time in our lives. Yet we judge it otherwise. Anyways, this talk isn’t exactly deserved for this film. Since Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, voyeurism has found its way into numerous films most notably in masterpieces like Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (1974), Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape (1988) and Sam Mendes’ American Beauty (1999). Disturbia here isn’t remotely special like any of these unless I repeat you’re a teenager for it is a nice little launching pad. But it isn’t dreadful like Brain De Palma’s Body Double (1984), which was in its own way was De Palma’s version of Rear Window. Anyways, I have never thought of De Palma very highly.
Kale (LaBeouf), a teenager who has recently lost his father in a car accident where he was driving, is depressed and isn’t doing well academically lands in more trouble, legal at that, as he smacks his teacher for making a reference to his father and is put under house arrest. Aided by his friend, Kale begins entertaining himself by watching his neighbors, especially a hot girl who has just moved in. As the news reports of a missing woman pours in, Kale gets increasingly suspicious about a neighbor of his who seems to have a vehicle matching the description of the suspect’s.
This lad, LaBeouf is good and he deservedly is getting a lot of work. It has not been a month and this is the third film (Transformers, Surf’s Up) I’m watching him in. He certainly isn’t another of those dumb teenagers flocking the films, he is good and knows what he is doing.
It is a teenaged flick, the camerawork intends to or at least on paper put down a rule stating that the camera would present the POV of Kale (LaBeouf). But it does lax the rules down the road, increasingly zooming in when teenage arousing stuff is on display, namely the neighboring hot girl’s tryst with her swimming pool. At a crucial point in the relation between Kale and the hot girl Ashley (Sarah Roemer, The Grudge2), he just goes on with some cheesy observation about her that I’m sure the director came up with only when he came to shooting this sequence, and of course forgot about it later. For some inane reason beyond my comprehension, the mother Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix) seems to be more often that not out of the house considering that much of the film is in night and within the house. Anyways she would just peep in when she was needed. Not much stress is laid out on motivation for various acts but that is understood. Hey, at least I can write that this film has this problem. Most teenager thrillers today make me want to blow my brains out, only to eat it again, digest it and blow it again. And then repeat the process a hundred times for I need to be punished venturing into such flicks. This one, I repeat, is good.
The ending is a cop out, a shame considering the preceding film. Obviously director D.J. Caruso is under the impression that this is the best part, and the target audience will sure respond accordingly, but as a matter of fact it is immensely dumb and ridiculous to the point of being laughable. Anyways, he manages to keep the tension high. One thing that caught my attention though, there was this underlying current flowing concerning the insecurity of having a hot single mom. The hot girl Ashley mentions this too. I’m still not sure that it was handled tastefully or not. Ah forget about it, I guess I’ve better stuff to do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Naidu,

have you done a review for iwo jima or apocalypse now ?

- Manish