May 27, 2007

Noise

"Noise" is an original piece of cinema. Thoughtful, sometimes disturbing, often confrontational. It will pose many questions and sometimes deliver few answers. If you are looking for a comfortable night at the cinema, then perhaps give this a miss. If you desire cinema that makes you think and feel then "Noise" is a film you must see. Representing the directorial debut of Matthew Saville, "Noise" is easily one of the finest Australian films of recent years. Set in suburban Melbourne the film opens with a young woman entering a train carriage only to realise she has stumbled across a massacre that has just ended the lives of seven people. Switch then to Police constable Graham MacGahan (Brendan Cowell). On patrol elsewhere in the city he collapses in a heap. We later learn he suffers from Tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears). Instead of receiving sick leave he is sent to a lone caravan for late night duty interviewing anyone who might have information about another murder that has taken place. A woman's body was found in a ditch. Her death may or may not be connected with the deaths aboard the train. However we learn through the course of the film that the murders simply serve as a backdrop to the struggles the characters in the film are undergoing. This is not some simple police murder mystery. It is rather an engrossing meditation on the frailties of human life, the fear and isolation that we feel in even the most common situations. This is portrayed in superb fashion by Brendan Cowell in the lead role. His character is leading a life of quiet desperation. His problems with his hearing only accentuates his feeling of isolation. He has no passion for his job (although he is actually quite good at it) and there is tension at home (although his wife turns out to be more then we thought). Cowell is outstanding. Vulnerable yet strong, ironic yet caring, his performance is full of grace and power, displaying many subtle touches of humour and compassion. The rest of the cast is also excellent in portraying all the richly drawn characters on display. Intense and slowly paced, I still found myself engrossed by every small and large action on the screen. This film will leave you searching for many answers (the ending comes quite abruptly). But I view it as a small slice of life in a period of time that these people's lives intersect and intertwine. Uniquely Australian, it is full of many dry portions of colloquial humour without ever reaching into cliche. This is a film that intrigues and delights, easily holding your attention through out.

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