Domestic Disturbia

Not one to pass on by a “Hitchcokian” thriller (or, a thriller of nearly any variety, really), I corralled some friends last weekend to go see Disturbia at my local neighborhood multiplex.

It is a slow film. That doesn’t bother me; I’m a patient viewer and I can find many things to enjoy (visually/aurally/compositionally) about a film if the narrative is slacking a bit. Disturbia is better, more artistically rendered than your average thriller film, particularly one in which the primary characters are teenagers.

The set-up is vaguely familiar: a good teenage boy, after experiencing a life-altering trauma, blames himself for what went wrong and turns somewhat delinquent, ending up spending his summer under house arrest. Separated from his friends, cut off from TV, iTunes, and other forms of communication, he turns to staring out his window to get to know his neighbors a little better…without their knowledge.

As someone who peeks into every uncurtained window he passes by (and really, isn’t that just an invitation to look?), I thought the film captured the complexity of curiosity, desire, and confinement well. To be fair, I often keep my own blinds open in my house, in case someone like me is wandering around wondering what I do with my time (which, admittedly, usually involves TiVo and a kitchen). I am also polite enough to know when it’s time to close the blinds. All’s fair…

The performances in this film are good enough; I’d hesitate to say above average. David Morse is wasted in his role, stuck playing your typcial menace, but Shia LeBoeuf is pretty mezmerizing as the “Martha’d” teen stuck in his (of course, beautiful) home. If you’re twelve years old, you’ll remember LeBoeuf as one half of the tween pair in Even Stevens; here, he, like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window serves as an unlikely hero—incapacited, emotionally broken, uncertain—convincingly. In fact, the three “teenage” actors in this film all turn in worthy performances, capturing the tentative personalities of that time of life with aplomb.

The ending—creepy, yes—wasn’t unpredictible. Despite this, one of my moviegoing friends was crouched down in his seat hiding under his track jacket during the last half hour.

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