The Appointment Comes Up Short

What makes a film "noir"? Is shooting in black-and-white enough? Is a femme fatale de rigeur? Is an ill-conceived attempt at the criminal life necessary? Is it all about attitude?

I think it's about the attitude, and attitude cannot be faked. It demands a lot of a cast -- and the cast of The Appointment isn't quite up to it. Major kudos go to director Todd Wade for making a film look this good on an absurdly small budget of $31,000 -- that's "thousand," not "million" -- but it comes across more as a parody of a noir than an actual example of the breed. Wade's anti-hero, Peter Bundle (Don Cummings), sells home alarm systems for a living. This is something of a downturn from his previous work as a golf pro at a ritzy country club, but his new position lands him all sorts of opportunities to make life better for himself: there's a hot, lonely dame who plunks down thousands on an alarm system just to piss off her neglectful husband; there's a shady character who'd like to buy some alarm codes for burgle-worthy homes. Will Peter go down the path of least resistance, led by greed and desire? Of course he will.

But we can't go with him, not when it all seems like a joke. Not a particularly funny one, but not anything that we can take seriously, either. That's too bad -- with a more experienced cast who could better embody the ache and angst of noir, Wade might've had something here.

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MaryAnn Johanson

author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride

minder of FlickFilosopher.com