It was the best Australian film of 2007. When a film comes out that enthrals you the way Noise does, it’s a bonus that it came from Australia. Modern Australian cinema could be described in some circumstances as “honest” and “heartbreaking”. The Australian hit of the year was “Romulus, My Father”. Other films that come to mind of recent years are “Beautiful Kate”, “Last Ride”, “Australia” and “Disgrace”. Films that stick outside the norm will always be more successful then the more common. Noise is an original premise, therefore the ground the filmmakers are stepping on is foreign territory. That’s what makes this film a success, and should be a hit, and when it is not, it will become a cult.
Australian cinema needs to be cherished when it is worth it and should not be when it isn’t. If you look at a recent Australian film “Wasted on the Young” you will see that it gets a great marketing campaign yet the film was empty. What was original was that it was a genre film, like “Noise” and others such as “Animal Kingdom” and “The Square”. Wasted on the Young is a teen thriller. It may not be a very good one, but it was different from others, and that is why it got a decent marketing campaign. I do believe that bad films will always exist and that, in fact, they will be more successful than the good ones.
Films like Noise pass under the rader, or get the old “I really want to see that movie,” and yet it gets lost beneath it all. Henri Langois of the Cinematheque Francais fought for the idea that a film lives on through the cinema. The only way for a film to become recognised is through screening it. If a film like Wasted on the Young gets a similar release on video and continues its moderate success where does this lead Australian cinema. Another similar film was “Samson & Delilah” which had a marketing campaign (a pretty horrible one) but was greeted by audiences. If Noise was given the same marketing campaign would it be as successful a film?
The thing with marketing campaign’s is they can make or break a movie. The worst type are the dishonest ones that completely lead the audience into the wrong direction. “Catfish” did this and so did “Samson & Delilah”. Both these film were successes so you could say that the success of a marketing campaign is purely unpredictable. That’s why people get on board after successes like Samson & Delilah and start trying to change incentives and you get films like Wasted on the Young – in my opinion could have been a much better film than it was – which do not fully develop their scripts. Noise on the other hand is a purely well-thought out mystery thriller right up until the climax.
Matthew Saville is to become one of Australia’s leading directors. His career has been in television and this at the moment is his only feature credit. Many directors follow this path such as Don Siegel and Stephen Frears who move on to become great artists of the medium. Other directors such as Luis Bunuel and Jean Renoir strictly only work with cinema; or other thrive from the theatre – Mike Leigh. It’s obvious we’ll be seeing Saville’s career head towards that of television and we will have to anticipate his next film outing (which may be years away). By this stage, we should see a much more crafted director with an optimal and refined way of working with the actor’s performance.
Here, Saville has crafted a compelling drama with a noir-like narrative. It follows a police officer who is handicapped with tinnitus (a constant ringing in the ears). After a dizzy spell renders him unconscious whilst on duty he finds himself working the lonely midnight shift in a temporary police caravan which has been placed near the location of a recent murder for surveillance. It’s an interesting and riveting locale setting you up for a creepy, intriguing, dark tale of mystery.
A striking point of the film is the environment of the film and the characters its filled with. It’s a fairly honest portrayal of mankind in a universal setting. Sure, it’s Melbourne, you can tell by the way the characters speak and you could guess the area I suppose, but it’s not a social commentary on a particular suburb. It’s about the universal human character – characters who seek a lifestyle of change, or of violence, or of redemption. The premise for the film introduces us to an array of characters who are living in this world – which is neither desolate or paradise, but somewhere lying between the two where reality sits. The environment is charming in some ways, and utopian in other ways, and presents how these characters fit universally into it. This is initially what makes the film so accessible.
It’s refreshing to see a narrative that avoids clichés derived from genre, country or . We’re invited to a somewhat genre set in a fictional world of nightmare’s but grounded in reality. The film is a modern classic because it allows you full access to this world, yet safely keeps you in the distance, so as not to bombard you with the dramatic tensions going on in the characters lives. We are invited to taste and flirt with the atrocious circumstances the characters are dealing with (being the target of a crazed psychotic killer, ears ringing with tinnitus) but are not overwhelmed by them. By doing this we are not smashed by the senses, nor are we given total access to the characters, these problems are the characters problem, and the film allows them to deal with them, not the viewer, thus engaging the viewer to the narrative.
I won’t go into any more of the treasures of the cinema presented in Noise but ask you to seek out this classic, yearn for more viewings and discussions with it’s makers, to ask them questions and to force yourself to enjoy the cinema granted before your eyes. It is through watching and seeing that the cinema lives on, and having films that can be seen and watched to be thought-provoking and intended to present something of value we should be thankful that people are making movies like Noise. I think through the right critical praise and encouraging ourselves to applaud filmmakers like Matthew Saville, we ourselves will be treated to more great and grander stories down the line.