SAVILLE, MATTHEW – NOISE
He’s not a thriller director and he’s made a thriller genre film that is not
predictable – but that’s life, the writer/director of Noise, Matthew Saville,
tells Andrew L. Urban.
A shock of black hair and a friendly smile distinguish Matthew Saville as he
stands to greet me in a trendy hotel room in Eastern Sydney, the bed having been
removed for a day of press interviews. Saville looks as though he’s just got off
a plane from Buenos Aires – because he has. It was a film festival trip and he
found the city “amazing, a blend of beauty and poverty,” its mass of cultural
strands woven by history into a fascinating and vibrant place.
Plunged into his media tour to promote Noise, Saville is almost chirpy,
considering the gruelling schedule. As I walk in, Sandy George of The Australian
walks out. Behind me are others. But Saville clearly enjoys talking about his
feature debut, Noise, a genre thriller – that isn’t exactly true to the genre.
"the laconic Aussie thriller"
“Australia doesn’t have a good track record of making decent genre films,
with a few recent exceptions in horror,” he says. “But we do make good prison
films; it’s our convict background,” he says smiling. “Besides, I’m not genre
director. But I wanted to explore it … through various excursions.” If you read
the film’s brief and intentionally truncated synopsis (at right), you’ll
recognise the genre elements: a killing spree, a lone female witness, a cop and
a scared community. Where and how will the killer strike next? Who is the
killer? But Saville goes about the task of posing and answering those questions
with much realism and an absence of hysteria.
“I want to be honest and natural; take the climactic shoot-out – it’s clumsy and
it’s certainly not balletic, or even cinematic.” Perhaps Saville is giving birth
to a new form of thriller: the laconic Aussie thriller, where the style is
suburban naturalism as opposed to stylish urban. Where the characters spend as
much time struggling with their daily lives (the cop suffers from ringing in his
ears) as they do living the drama written for them by the filmmaker.
But that’s not to say Saville has nothing to say. He charts Graham McGahan’s
emotional journey from self centred young cop to mature policeman - and man.
“Graham reaches a point of maturity when he comes to recognise other people’s
needs are greater than his.”
And it’s with a wicked grin that Saville admits that he is “playing with
metaphors by the truckload in this film … like the beam of light shining down
from the helicopter at the end … like the crying baby signifying rebirth … like
the old man’s face looking down at Graham signifying the face of God … I just
went ballistic with them!”
"meant to evoke confusion"
The title, he says, signifies many things, mostly to do with a loud world, or
the media frenzy triggered by the crime … it’s a word that’s meant to evoke
confusion. We live in a world of noise and we’ve learnt the language of all the
different noise makers, like the computer’s noises, the mobile phone noises,
lifts, so on and so on.”
As for the tinnitus that plagues Graham, Saville got that from real life, too.
He suffered from it himself for a while. “I’d have episodes of feeling isolated,
angry, frustrated (just like Graham) … the one place you can’t leave is your own
head. But it’s also a great life lesson,” he adds. “You have to learn how to
listen through it, not to try and fight it.”
Published May 3, 2007
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NOISE – in cinemas May 3, 2007
Lavinia Smart (Maia Thomas) is the sole survivor of a suburban train massacre.
Graham McGahan (Brendan Cowell) is a cop in suburban Melbourne where another
violent murder rocks the community. He lives with his girlfriend, Const. Caitlin
Robinson (Katie Wall), but is reluctant to let himself be vulnerable, even after
being diagnosed with tinnitus – could it be a sign of cancer? McGahan is demoted
to light duties, manning a mobile police caravan, located near the murder scene.
Locals are invited to report any signs of suspicious behaviour, but it is clear
that the van is little more than a novelty. Biscuits and condoms are offered to
the locals as they pop in to chat, abuse the cops and maybe confide. All the
while, Lavinia is terrified the train killer will find her and silence the only
witness to his crime.