Review: ‘Public Access’

Public Access represents a disturbing, dramatically cloudy, technically proficient feature debut from young helmer Bryan Singer. This very low-budget study of malaise lurking beneath the tranquil surface of a typical small American town is serious-minded and bounces around some provocative ideas, but is vague about important matters as key story points, motivation and overriding theme.

Public Access represents a disturbing, dramatically cloudy, technically proficient feature debut from young helmer Bryan Singer. This very low-budget study of malaise lurking beneath the tranquil surface of a typical small American town is serious-minded and bounces around some provocative ideas, but is vague about important matters as key story points, motivation and overriding theme.

Handsome, flinty and disconcertingly creepy, Whiley Pritcher (Ron Marquette) takes a room in a small boarding house in the sleepy community of Brewster run by the grizzled former mayor (Burt Williams) and immediately takes air time on the local public access channel, where he launches a call-in show dubbed Our Town, and poses the simple question, ‘What’s wrong with Brewster?’

Whiley becomes an immediate local celebrity. While beginning a romance with sincere librarian Rachel (Dina Brooks), he takes some heat from locals for getting involved in matters he knows nothing about. Polite, smiling and affable in public, Whiley allows neither other characters nor the audience behind his steely persona – he’s a man with no known background, psychology or motivation.

What Singer and his co-scenarists seem to be getting at is a critique of Reagan-era greed, hypocrisy and antihumanism, as well as a commentary on the power of the media and its ability to distract the public from issues with attractive surfaces.

Technically, the production is impressive, especially considering the $250,000 budget and 18-day schedule. Individual sequences are very well staged, shot and edited, and confrontation scenes carry a fair measure of tension.

Public Access

Production

Cinemabeam/Tokuma. Director Bryan Singer; Producer Kenneth Kokin; Screenplay Christopher McQuarrie, Bryan Singer, Michael Feit Dougan; Camera Bruce Douglas Johnson; Editor John Ottman; Music John Ottman; Art Director Jan Sessler

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1993. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Ron Marquette Dina Brooks Burt Williams Larry Maxwell Charles Kavanaugh Brandon Boyce
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading