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Building Bombs
Film Summary

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Ted and Isobel

Isobel has a volatile relationship with her trust fund boyfriend, Ted, who has rejected his father's money and moved them into an downtown New York tenement while he finishes his philosophy dissertation. Isobel dreams of the day when Ted will teach in a New England College and she can have a career in advertising, but for now she is only a secretary and Ted has writer's block.

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Ted's father Arnold lectures him.

Ted stays home all day trying to write, while Isobel works to support them. When their downstairs neighbor Mike comes up to complain about Ted's pacing, Ted distracts himself by spending the day getting drunk with Mike and listening to his delusional ranting. Isobel is disgusted by Mike, but Ted finds the whole thing amusing - even going so far as to tape record his conversations with Mike. Later, when Isobel is locked out and has to use Mike's telephone, Mike upsets her further by drawing comparisons between Isobel's background and his own.

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Mike - the not-so mad bomber.

As Ted struggles to write his paper, he finds himself mocking Isobel's "bourgeois" desires to better herself. When Isobel is passed over for a promotion, they fight, and Isobel takes refuge in Mike's apartment. Mike tries to impress her with a box of mail-bombs and a slideshow of people he plans to exact revenge on. Isobel flees in horror.

Ted and Isobel make up and Isobel tells Ted she is afraid of Mike and wants to move out. Ted does not take her seriously, but to relieve her anxiety, he breaks into Mike's apartment and discovers there are no bombs, only a child's toy chemistry set and a tattered notebook listing peoples "Offenses." Inspired by Mike, Ted pulls an all-nighter and makes Mike "The Everyman" subject of his dissertation. When Teds dissertation is rejected, Ted breaks up with Isobel and returns to his father. Isobel goes to Mike demanding that he build her a bomb so she can exact revenge on Ted and everyone else who has ever treated her badly. Mike's facade crumbles and he admits he is just an angry man reduced to impotent revenge fantasies by the accidental death of his wife and child a few years earlier. Isobel is deeply moved by Mike's story and ends up spending the night with him.

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The EPA men dismantle Mike's Atom Bomb.

The next day, Mike has fallen in love with Isobel. However, Ted returns, begging forgiveness and asking Isobel to come uptown and live the good life at his father's house. Isobel reluctantly agrees, and she tells Mike it's over before it has barely begun. Mike is crushed and retreats into his anger once again. Everything goes well for Isobel uptown. She and Ted are in love and Ted's step mother, Janice, arranges for Isobel to get a better job. Then Isobel discovers she is pregnant. When she admits to Ted she doesn't know who the father is, Ted goes to Mike's, beats him senseless, and discovers that Mike has built an A-Bomb in his apartment. Ted calls the cops, then returns to Isobel and tells her what he did and demands that she get an abortion. Isobel leaves Ted and runs downtown only to find Mike being arrested. As Mike is being taken away, Isobel tells him she may be having his baby. Mike tells her he loves her, but Isobel has no answer. As the police car drives away Isobel wonders where her life will go from here.

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The Cops take Mike away.


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Isobel talks about Mike:

"I knew this guy on Staten Island - he was killin' all the cats in the neighborhood - writin' it down in a book; 'This Cat Must Die! This Cat Must Die!'. So when they finally took him away to the funny farm all that people could say was 'He was such a great guy. Was quiet and kept to himself.' That's who your new best friend Mike is. Understand?"