his return to favour with 1994's "Pulp Fiction", his performance
pendulum has swung mostly between Darkly Hip and Morally Noble.
Joining Travolta in this perilous situation is director Harold Becker.
Having directed such effective thrillers as "Sea of Love"
and "Malice", he should have been well aware of the genre's
mechanics and avoided a leaden mess like this.
with the standard Hollywood perception that all stepparents are
dormant psychopaths, we find Travolta's pre-teen son Danny (O'Leary)
claiming that his stepdad Rick Barnes (Vaughn) has committed murder.
Perception two, that all adults are half-wits, kicks in when no
one believes him - prone as he is to lying. Slowly, Travolta's lumbering
nice guy, Frank Morrison, pieces together the evidence that Barnes
is not a Model Dad.
first half, to its credit, does effectively portray parental anxiety
when the kid goes off the rails, but all that soon disappears in
a fog of by-the-numbers clichés, unbelievable coincidences,
and blatant theft from Hitchcock. Becker even has the audacity to
invoke a Bernard Herrmann-like string score, which isn't so much
a safety valve as an outright execution switch.
Travolta is clearly guilty of phoning his performance in, Vaughn
certainly has a knack for moral ambiguity and simmering menace -
so why waste it with a bunch of low-rent psycho tics later on? Class
does get a look in, though, with the all-too-brief appearance of
Steve Buscemi, whose talent for scene theft borders on virtuoso.
Otherwise, this is a bad day at the office for most concerned.
Disturbance" opens at UK cinemas on Friday 11th January 2002.
Danny Graydon , BBC Films
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