Noise

Noise brings much more to the table than first meets the eye. This little-seen Australian beaut from writer/director Matthew Saville (who has mostly worked on Australian TV until now) packs a punch. God bless you Sundance, for bringing Noise to our attention.

The main character Graham McGahan (Brendan Cowell) has tinnitus, which is a malfunction of the ear causing a constant high-pitch ringing, and dizzy spells. He trys to get time off work (fearing he has cancer) but has no such luck. For a police officer, the holidays are busy times. Not to mention that a string of murders has shaken his little town up. He’s then stationed in a trailer, manned twenty four hours a day, where locals can come and offer any relevant information about the crimes. Focus also centers around the one eye-witness to the murders, Lavina (Maia Thomas). The killer let her escape, but knows her name, and has threatened the police to finish her off.

The cast is made up mostly of relative unknowns. But you wouldn’t be able to guess by the skill of the cast. Despite never having been in a film before, Thomas blows the rest of the cast out of the water with her emotionally powerful performance. You believe her, no matter what she does.

The title, it turns out, has multiple meanings. The protagonist, as mentioned before, has tinnitus, when he hears a gunshot, it sounds to him, like a nuclear explosion. Director Saville worked closely with sound designer Emma Bortignon and composer Bryony Marks to create a soundscape almost more intricate than the plot (while not beating the novelty of it to death). Sounds are constantly swirling around the viewer. It’s accentuated with normal sounds: slurping coffee, smoking cigarettes, clicking jaws, unanswered telephones – the prosaic effects of day-to-day life (making me glad I watched this wearing noise-cancellation headphones). Sometimes it’s not the noise that’s emphasized, but the lack thereof. For the length of the film, Saville attacks every sense he can every way he knows how, and it’s a thrilling, interesting ride.

You’d think with all this focus on the auditory aspects, Seville might have let other important factors slide. But even at the greatest climax of the film, the emphasis never leaves the characters and their interactions. The plot never suffers, and despite the sensational subject matter, Seville doesn’t stoop to exploitation and it is an extremely satisfying experience to watch. Rent this.

★★★½

Rottentomatoes: 100%Cream of the Crop: Not enough for a rating

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