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The Silence & the Noise by Tom Powell

One is reminded in this movie adaptation of a play quite what is possible through the medium of film – not just the great outdoors portrayed as it is, rather than the plastic trees and fake foliage of the theatre – but the quiet nuances of private conversation, without the need to ensure the back row of the upper circle can hear every word perfectly. The opening gambit is familiar action movie territory: Ben (William Robinson) is threatened at knifepoint by Daize (Rachelle Diedericks). There was a part of me that wished, after a few minutes, that she would get on with it, or that he would brandish his own weapon, and let the audience be treated to some decent CGI.

The Silence and the Noise
The Silence and the Noise

But that appears to be beside the point, however much Daize insists she is prepared to do damage, using various turns of phrase before finally making it clear to Ben: “I will put you in the ground”. What – or rather whom – she is really defending is her mother, and quite precisely she needs protection from is not a rather benign teenage schoolboy, but what he represents. He’s on an assignment, sent by an off-screen drugs baron known only as Beetle, and it gradually becomes clear the impressionable youngster has been duped into doing his bidding. There’s money involved, of course, and when Ben later boasts that he has more of it than Daize could reasonably expect to earn for herself any time soon, she wants to know where it is. Beetle, Ben replies, is keeping it safe for him. Mmm-hmm.

Daize (only her mother has the right to call her Daisy) is given some excellent putdown lines – “I’ve seen fish fingers with more kissable faces” was a particularly memorable one – in what eventually becomes a love story, in the sense that opposites attract. The scenes hop between days, or sometimes one week, but always – thankfully – in forward chronological order, such that the complexity lies not in trying to piece together a narrative from what happened before and after the present but from what is happening around the central characters as well as what is happening to them. What is unseen is more harrowing than what is: Ben’s injuries sustained from a beating after making “a mistake” are a gruesome sight, but what happens to Daize’s mother, and indeed to Beetle, is described rather than dramatized. In doing so, the film’s aim as a theatre-movie hybrid is realised: there’s still a need to engage one’s imagination.

Both actors perform brilliantly – Robinson’s Ben conveys a mix of emotions, torn between doing the ‘right’ thing by his ‘employer’ and seeing the adverse consequences of his actions, directly and indirectly. Diedericks’ Daize is highly convincing throughout, with a stoic response to her belongings being destroyed by Beetle and his friends, and a steely determination to see to it that Ben does indeed do “anything” to put things right after the film’s critical incident. A wrong is, in the end, righted by another wrong, but it demonstrates the power of words and why we should all be careful what we say.

The dilemmas presented are intriguing ones: imagine being so destitute that one is forced to steal food, or being engaged in a profitable enterprise that is providing substantial personal benefits but is ultimately harming others? There is, perhaps, a tad more sentimentality than was intended in a late scene in which tears flow freely from both characters – or was it more of a cathartic emotional release? The ending returns them to the youthful confidence they started with, though a little older and, hopefully, a lot wiser. A thoughtful production that deals with a number of contemporary issues with uncompromising honesty.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Ben and Daize are teenagers either side of a county line. Drug runner and daughter of an addict. As the adult world around them becomes deadly dangerous, do these natural enemies have it in them to save each other?

The film tells an urgent, relevant story with warmth and humour, speaking to audiences about deprivation, love, betrayal and hope.

A creative exploration of filming a play, discovering where film and theatre meet, by industry-leading rural arts companies Pentabus and Rural Media.

The Silence & the Noise
by Tom Powell
Staring Rachelle Diedericks and William Robinson

Available online to watch for free from 20 April – 31 May 2023.
Trigger Warnings: Strong language, with some references to violence, drug use and domestic abuse.
Suitable for ages: 15+

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