Urban Cinefile
"About two or three minutes into it, my jaw hit the floor. "  -Gregg Hoffman at Evolution Studios, on watching a sample scene from Saw
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



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

Email this article

Matthew Saville

NOISE – in cinemas May 3, 2007

On set

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.

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020