“ Genre: Comedy / Theatrical Release: 1992 / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Peter Bogdanovich / Actors: Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Denholm Elliott, Julie Hagerty, Marilu Henner ... / DVD released 2004-04-05 at Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainm / Features of the DVD: PAL „
If you're not quite in the right mood for it, Noises Off can seem a little disorienting as well as a little annoying. There are so many things going on at the same time it can give you a bit of a headache. However, if you're up for complicated characters living out complicated lives in a complicated setting, then this might be for you.
Michael Caine plays a harassed stage director, whose new play, a British sex farce, is touring the US ready for its debut on Broadway. The farce concerns a house somewhere in England where lots of different characters meet and come and go, through the bedroom, in the linen closet etc. Lots of mistaken identity and rushing around with no clothes on. It's the farce behind the scenes that ends up being funnier.
The film is split into three sections. The first is a rehearsal, giving the audience an idea of the play and how the audience would see it if it was on show. The second part is from behind the set where the characters interact with each other after an argument, whilst still performing the show itself. The third part is again from the front of the set where arguments spill over into the performance.
It's extremely complicated to describe, but Noise Off manages to be very clever, especially in the middle section of the film.
Peter Bogdanovich directs the action with gusto, never giving the audience a chance to breathe as the action goes from the front to behind the set. I've never been a huge fan of Bogdanovich's work, The Last Picture Show was never my cup of tea, but I know he loved the golden age of Hollywood's screwball comedy, making films like 'What's Up Doc'.
Michael Caine pulls a decent performance out of the bag, but does end up being a bit 'shouty'. The ensemble cast all do well, Carol Burnett as the dotty 'Mrs. Clackett' also performs well. The others - John Ritter, Julie Hagerty and Nicollette Sheridan also do well.
Standout performances are Christopher Reeve, who plays totally against type as the nervous 'Frederick Dallas' and also Denholm Ellitott as the company's resident drunk.
It's a decent enough film, but I think you need to be in the right frame of mind to watch it as it can be a little exhausting with so much happening. Its very well directed and acted throughout, but the last twenty minutes or so did seem to drag a bit.
Noises Off can be purchased from Play. Com for the excellent price of £3.99 including postage.