The Silence and the Noise

Reviewer: David Cunningham

Writer: Tom Powell

Directors: Rachel Lambert and Elle While

Events in The Silence and the Noise take place against a murky moral landscape. The move opens with teenager Diaze (Rachelle Diedericks) holding a knife to the throat of clean-cut Ben (William Robinson) who is dressed as if for a game of tennis. But Ben’s mode of dress disguises his intentions – he is an under-aged drug runner indentured to a dealer named Beetle who sells to Diaze’s mother, Lil. Far from being an aggressor, Diaze’s threatening actions are intended to deter Ben from pushing her mother deeper into addiction.

Diaze and Ben form a flirtatious relationship based, although neither can recognise the case, upon their shared experience of defending the actions of parental role models whose behaviour is indefensible. Diaze remembers how her mother’s efforts to behave like a ‘normal’ parent resulted in her attending a school parents’ night a fortnight late and chatting to the cleaner under the impression she was her daughter’s English teacher.

Ben’s relationship with Beetle borders on abusive as his mentor is prone to pouring boiling water over him as punishment for not meeting standards. Ben desperately tries to convince himself his activities are harmless, claiming to offer a service like Boots the Chemist and selling drugs only to willing clients. Until challenged by Diaze, Ben naively seems to believe Beetle is safeguarding, not stealing, his backpay.

Co-directors Rachel Lambert and Elle While subtly demonstrate how the characters have been let down by, and are exiled from, conventional society. Meetings between the duo take place outdoors where, in the manner of homeless people, they squat on abandoned furniture.

The acting is of a very high standard. William Robinson shows the extent of Ben’s self-deception with a silent tear tricking from his eye. There is a cruel aspect to Ben as he openly mocks Diaze for not realising the tennis gear is a ploy to disguise his dealing. Robinson goes to pieces in anxiety as Ben is forced to acknowledge the extent to which he fears his family may suffer reprisals if he does not continue pushing the drugs.

Rachelle Diedericks delivers a slow burning performance. There is a deeply disturbing moment, as Diaze reaches her lowest emotional point, after her high as a kite mother destroys her schoolwork and uniform, of Diedericks silently contemplating her limited options while also looking at her knife.

Tom Powell’s script makes clear the heroic efforts of the characters to cope with horrifying circumstances – Diaze confessing the embarrassing events that resulted in her eating cat food. Diaze is effectively forced out of her own home when the drug dealer takes up residence and forms a relationship with her mother.

The dialogue is sharp and stimulating – Ben being described as dressing like a crap Andy Murray or the manager of a MacDonalds- which suits the genuine chemistry between the actors. But Powell occasionally indulges in a lyrical approach more appropriate for the stage than the screen. The name of ‘Beetle’ comes from a comparison with the Egyptian scarab or ‘dung’ beetle which seems a bit highbrow for the average drug dealer.

Although only an hour long The Silence and the Noise squeezes a tremendous emotional punch into the limited running time.

The Silence and the Noise is streaming from 16 November.

The Reviews Hub Score

Short but powerful

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