Noise (2007) [Review]

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The community reels after an incident on a suburban train. A young cop, beset with doubt and afflicted with tinnitus, is pitched into the chaos that follows this tragic event.

Unconventional crime thriller set in inner west Melbourne, where the notions of good and evil are challenged as the horror of a grotesque crime is brought right onto the small towns doorstep. It is subtle and refreshing to see an Australian movie not based around gangs, post-apocolyptic nightmares or drugs – that isn’t to say that this film is in any way pleasant. The grizzly act that takes place right at the beginning is worth keeping under wraps to purely keep the shock value to the max.

Witness to the act on the train was Lavinia Smart (Maia Thomas), who quickly goes from suspect to potential victim within a matter of minutes. Our other lead, Graham McGahan (Brendan Cowell), is a cop who has recently discovered he has tinnitus and fears it could be worse. The two stories are intertwined as the police begin the slow investigation into the horrible act that took place on the train, Lavinia’s paranoia mounts up, and so does Graham’s with regards to his own personal health. These storylines are more personal explorations of self-doubt and concern rather than fascination over the criminal, which seems odd for a movie based on a crime, even more so when quite often the  actions of the criminal is a cry for attention and notoriety.

Noise_BrendanCowell(Graham McGahan)

If it sounds quite ordinary, that’s because it is. There is no glamourisation here, no sensationalist type of killing nor is there anything particularly movie-worthy about our main characters. No super smart detective, no muscly heroic cop and Lavinia certainly isn’t the victim who takes things into our own hands. Lavinia is scared, Graham is conflicted, the criminal is on the loose and everyone appears to be so isolated and self-absorbed that nobody really seems to understand anyone else’s perspective. Part of this films appeal is this realism, which then allows brief moments of self-reflection, extraordinary heroism or courage to truly stand out. It’s realism extends beyond our two leads, and into the crime itself, to the extent that the events that take place end up being largely unexplained from a motivational perspective. Much like life itself, the motives and actions of many are very rarely understood.

Noise_Henry Nixon(Craig)

Stylistically you can tell it has tried to set itself apart from the expected hues, polished finish and splattering of blood you see so often from crime thrillers. Noise uses a dark and broody backdrop, interspersed with bright lights similar to that of Nightcrawler. These scenes are matched with moments of silence, and troubling high-pitched noises which allow us to try to begin to understand Graham’s increasing sense of disorientation and concern.

It is an intense film that by the end will leave you with more questions than answers, but a satisfying conclusion nonetheless. The script is full of the usual Australian wit, the performances were natural and understated, and in terms of style and substance it delivered both by the truck load. A true indie gem of a film, that relies more on character development rather than shock revelations or obvious motives to achieve it’s intent to thrill.

It is available to rent on the Film Movement website for US readers, others will need order or borrow the DVD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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