Noise

Review by Jane Freebury

This new Australian film has moved the bar for the local policier several notches higher. Writer/director Matthew Saville is an exciting new feature filmmaker, and his script is one of the film’s strong points, rich with the colour of local idiom and pulling back from the tough talk that screenwriters feel they need to capture the intensity of police work.

Another thing that softens the police profile is the disability of the main character Constable Graham McGahan (Brendan Cowell) who is assigned to lighter duties after his doctor has diagnosed his tinnitus. If he’d a club foot or a scar chiselled into his cheek it could be a sign he had cause to behave badly. But this constable with a ringing sound in his ears, who gets the shakes when he has to use his gun, and can barely be bothered to do his duty is not particularly interested in solving crime. ‘Slack as’, would be about right.

That doesn’t make him hard to like a little. Even his girlfriend, a colleague in the force, doesn’t mind too much about his lack of drive. Not a patch on the commitment we see at home to cricket however, as he stands at an invisible set of stumps, playing shots in front of a full-length mirror.

It is Christmas time in suburban Melbourne, when trees and lights and other signs of goodwill are going to twinkle with irony when man’s inhumanity to man asserts itself. ‘Some shithead goes mental on a train’ and shoots seven people dead. Inexplicably he lets the last remaining passenger in the railway carriage alive.

This survivor didn’t hear the slaughter because the music from her headphones was so loud – another candidate for tinnitus? – that she couldn’t. Though why she should have been spared is never really clear.

There are a few annoying loose ends, like the rego number, the burning ute, and the suggestion that people are being watched or tailed, when they probably aren’t. But Noise compensates for these inferences and dangling plot points with convincing performances, an exciting visual style and terrifically good sound design.

The chill and latent threat in empty suburban streets certainly brings back memories of The Boys in some respects but the fictional world that Saville has built isn’t quite as ‘on the money’.

3.5 stars

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