TILL HUMAN VOICES WAKE US
15 year old Sam Franks (Lindley Joyner) returns to his country home town of Genoa from boarding school and hangs out with his childhood friend Sylvy (Brooke Harmon). Their friendship turns into budding first love, but when they go down to the river for an evening swim, Sylvy disappears, believed drowned. Years later, Sam (Guy Pearce) is a practising psychologist, but has blocked out all the painful memories of Sylvyís death. When his father dies, Sam returns to Genoa for the funeral and meets Ruby (Helena Bonham-Carter), on the train. Then he sees her on the railway bridge one night, above the river and when he goes to help her, finds she seems to have lost her memory.
Review by Louise Keller:
An intriguing concept canvassing memory and loss, Till Human Voices Wake Us is a gentle, thought provoking film that stimulates but never totally satisfies. Michael Petroni excels at the character development, and I especially enjoyed the first half of the film, when we become involved in carefree innocent days cycling and swimming in the remote countryside. The two youngsters Lindley Joyner and Brooke Harmon display great sensitivity and we connect to their lives and dreams. Superb production design and cinematography create a great sense of place and thereís real joy in the small pleasures of life. Samís unemotional father, who instils a coldness and lack of emotional response in the young impressionable boy, is the only yardstick he has to cling to, and we can understand the detachment he has created in his own life. Taking a trip down memory lane can be very painful, and for Sam, it is like opening a wound. As he returns to Genoa, it is like visiting a ghost town; he no longer belongs and he has spent most of his life repressing his childhood memories. Much of the latter part of the film is open to interpretation, when the mood becomes reflective and intensely personal. Guy Pearce creates a credible reserve in the adult Sam, while Helena Bonham-Carter is beguiling as Ruby. Some of the scripting and events after a scene where Ruby enters the dance hall feel rather forced, and for me, part of the magic is lost. The title refers to a line from T.S. Elliotís poem that recurs in dialogue, but a more effective title might have been selected.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It doesnít matter what you make of this film, it remains enigmatic or poetic, confusing or inscrutable, depending on your perception. Of course, many great films defy explicit explanation by reason or logic alone. Like The Sixth Sense . . . not that Iím comparing it with Till Human Voices Wake Us, but there is a discernible link in the subject matter. Without spoiling it for you, itís enough to say the screenplay explores a very specific relationship during and after itís torn apart by death. But itís what happens much later that turns the film into something unique. The first half of the film establishes the teenagers in love and their social, family surroundings. This tends to have us invest heavily in these characters, which is what Michael Petroni wants, so that when we jump forward in time, he can drag out that investment and play with it. As much as it has been acclaimed, I am less enthusiastic about the screenplay, although I see it working well as a stage drama. Everything else about the film is first class, from the performances Ė all of them Ė to the memorable camerawork and production design, the fine score and the sharp-eyed direction. Certainly interesting, but itís not quite as gripping as it might have been.
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TILL HUMAN VOICES WAKE US (M)
CAST: Guy Pearce, Helena Bonham-Carter, Brooke Harmon, Lindley Joyner
PRODUCER: Shana Levine, Dean Murphy, Nigel Odell, David Redman, Matthias Emcke, Thomas Augsberger
DIRECTOR: Michael Petroni
SCRIPT: Michael Petroni
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roger Lanser
EDITOR: Bill Murphy
MUSIC: Dale Cornelius
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ralph Moser
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Becker Entertainment
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne: September 12, 2002; Sydney/ACT: September 19, 2002
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Madman/Av Channel
VIDEO RELEASE: Melbourne: September 12, 2002; Sydney/ACT: February 26, 2003 (Also on DVD)