It’s very easy to ostracise yourself from the rest of the world. I’m not simply talking about digging yourself into a pit and living in it or being Eli Roth. I’m talking about the psychological factors. Constantly tell yourself that you’re a waste of space and soon, not only do you believe it, everyone else does too. Congratulations! You’re now a complete waste of space. Like Eli Roth.
Whilst Noise’s protagonist Constable Graham McGahan (Brendan Cowell) doesn’t go to the lengths mentioned above, he still finds himself alienated from people both physically and emotionally. He suffers from tinnitus; an ailment that begins to separate him from his girlfriend and his peers. He tells his girlfriend nothing of what’s happening to him, leading her to feel that they’re growing apart. At work, he uses it to get himself cushier shifts. The latter results in Graham being assigned the night shift at a police information van in one of the rougher suburbs of Melbourne, where a series of grisly murders have happened. Bored, lonely and having convinced himself that his tinnitus maybe the first stages of a tumour, Graham begins to interact with traumatized members of the community, eventually forming a friendship with the fiancée of one of the murder victims.
We also follow Lavinia (Maia Thomas), a young woman who witnesses the tail end of a murder on the very train she’s taking home. Immediately viewed as a suspect, Lavinia begins to retreat into herself, refusing to open up about what she’s seen. Upon discovering that the killer may have a named picture of her left on the train, she becomes paranoid that they will seek her out to keep her silent.
Noise is less about the murders and more about the ramifications and how its main characters react to what’s happening around them. For Graham, this becomes a journey of self-discovery, whilst Lavinia tries to rebuild her trust in people. McGahan and Thomas are strong and confident in their respective roles, giving them nuances that make them instantly believable.
This is, in part, down to director, Matthew Saville’s screenplay. He ensures that everyone, from the protagonist to the minor roles, are characters with genuine depth. And though Saville only offers us glimpses into their lives, we never feel anyone is unnecessary or needs to be trimmed.
Australia movies, like those in the UK, are rarely seen as glossy affairs, but Saville ensures that Noise competes with any drama that’s pumped out of America on a regular basis at least visually. The sound engineering of the movie needs its own special mention. On occasion, it scoops us up and drops us into Constable Graham’s inner world of tinnitus; helping you understand his frustration.
The film does have its faults. The ambiguous ending could be seen as being self-indulgent and reminiscent of the finale of The Sopranos. However, it’s a bold piece of work that, three years on, deserves the awards it’s already garnered and more recognition than it gets.