I mentioned the other day that my reason for going to see the first film in the London Australian Film Festival was partly due to some personal recognition of the main character’s situation. With the latest film, Noise, I’m happy to say this isn’t the case.
Following a tragic shooting on a passenger train in Melbourne, Constable Graham McGahan (Brendan Cowell) suffers an attack of tinnitus, a hearing disorder that is debilitating him more every day. When a young girl is killed in another part of town, McGahan is assigned to desk duty in the police portakabin, where he comes into contact with an array of locals who will lead him to question his own identity.
The world of Noise is full of darkness, from the characterisation of its many players through to the look and feel of its various locations: this is a world none of us would particularly like to be part of but which we probably all recognise in some way.
The film takes time to build up a head of steam but it never feels sluggish. The noise in McGahan’s head, heard by the audience thanks to some clever sound design, is intrusive but necessary if we are to get any real sense of what is driving him. McGahan comes across as a typical Aussie bloke, though the fear in his eyes that appears at certain points is anything but typical.
Director Matthew Saville has noted his interest in the theme of isolation, and that the film is a comment on the isolation of both its characters and of Australia itself. It’s true that the film does capture the feel of Australia in the small world we are introduced to, working not only as a snapshot of a nation and as an accomplished thriller.
Review by Jonathan Melville