Making Noise Quietly

Review by Kambole Campbell @kambolecampbell

Directed by

Dominic Dromgoole

Starring

Deborah Findlay Pauline McLynn Trystan Gravelle

Anticipation.

Three stories about how our propensity for violence continues to ruin us? Sure.

Enjoyment.

Competent and not without its bright spots, but lacks creativity and urgency.

In Retrospect.

Eventually all does feel like noise, any particularly striking moment lost among the film’s various monologues.

This measured adaptation of Robert Holman’s stage play can’t quite escape its theatre roots.

The debut feature from theatre director Dominic Dromgoole, based on a West End play by Robert Holman, Making Noise Quietly proceeds along the same path as its namesake, constructed from a triptych of stories that centre around conversations between people about major modern wars and their various, traumatic knock-on effects.

The first story, ‘Being Friends’, takes place in Kent during World War Two and follows two young men who remain behind while their loved ones go to fight. Oliver Bell (Luke Thompson) is a Quaker and a conscientious objector, Eric Faber (Matthew Tennyson), is an openly gay artist struggling with illness. The conversation between the two men is mellow and restrained, probing each other with questions about ideology, lifestyle and sexuality, speaking with a refreshing of matter-of-factness. It’s this and the third story, also named ‘Making Noise Quietly’, that show the strongest work, the latter bringing the film to a fairly solid conclusion following a droll second act, a story about bereavement bluntly titled ‘Cost’.

‘Cost’ is emblematic of where Making Noise Quietly generally falters, the translation of stage performance to screen. No real advantage is taken of a medium where time, place and image is more flexible. Any salient points get lost in the film’s numerous monologues, all shot in long, static, unstimulating takes. While the isolation and length of each conversation feels suitable for the context it all feels a bit too literal – like a filmed table read of material that, while fascinating, isn’t carried over in a way that justifies the adaptation. There are few impactful or even memorable images, aside from a fairly romantic close-up of the lighting of a cigarette, or a moment where a child mimics the violence often enacted on him by his father.

The final segment might be the most emotive, as it explores the long-term toll of committing violent acts while in service, as a Holocaust survivor (Deborah Findlay) tries to fix the violent and abusive relationship between a soldier (Trystan Gravelle) and his troubled, kleptomaniac son. It toes a provocative line, discussing what makes and becomes of trauma, rage and cycles of violence, and whether it’s even possible to heal it. It’s tricky, murky storytelling, that refuses to paint a monstrous man as an outright monster, purporting him as a victim himself, in some ways. His self-awareness and self-hatred at one point leads him to plead the woman to save his son from his toxic influence.

Making Noise Quietly confronts some interesting issues on state-endorsed violence, but unfortunately it’s rather restricted by its lack of imagination. Its most abstract image (and probably its corniest), is that of a man sitting at a piano in a barn, connecting each story at intervals where he plays the score, as though it’s all unfolding on a stage before him. It acts as a sort of eerie reminder that ultimately, Making Noise Quietly couldn’t escape its stage roots, prioritising flat theatrics over any cinematic quality.

Published 18 Jul 2019

Tags: Dominic Dromgoole

Anticipation.

Three stories about how our propensity for violence continues to ruin us? Sure.

Enjoyment.

Competent and not without its bright spots, but lacks creativity and urgency.

In Retrospect.

Eventually all does feel like noise, any particularly striking moment lost among the film’s various monologues.

Related Reviews

Queen and Country

By Adam Woodward

British veteran John Boorman returns with a jolly follow-up to his beloved Hope and Glory.

review

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

By David Jenkins

A wartime book group harbours a dark secret in this sparky British drama from director Mike Newell.

review

Mister John

By David Jenkins

Don’t miss this exceptional and haunting British drama which boasts a career-best turn from Aidan Gillen.

review LWLies Recommends

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design

Sign up to our newsletter to hear more from team LWLies