A great storyteller knows how to make the audience spot something wrong or uneven without explicitly saying it. It can be a relationship gone wrong, a practice that went awry, or even a person going crazy. They do so by establishing a routine first. It may make the movie seem boring at first, but the filmmaker knows that those menial shots are crucial to letting the audience know how normal things look. The Belgian Thriller movie “Noise” does exactly that from the beginning. It makes us cognizant of all the minute changes as they creep into the characters’ lives, and we notice things shifting into another dynamic.
Co-written and directed by Steffen Geypens, the movie revolves around Matthias, who shifts to his childhood home with his girlfriend and kid. Soon, he is pulled into solving a conspiracy theory that has troubled his father for the past several years. In the meantime, this budding investigation causes Matthias to drift away from his family and go deeper into a mental dark hole. He finds shocking family secrets as he finds out more about the factory incident. Each character has their own troubles to deal with. The movie works well to exhibit the trauma and guilt that people face after a very difficult tragedy in their lives. People tend to react to the same things in distinct ways even as they move on in life.
Matthias is a typical modern man who is obsessed with likes and followers on social media. He works as a social media influencer and leverages his platform to promote products and brands. The movie begins with a vision in which a woman named Michelle is walking towards a lake and drowning herself despite a man, Pol, running behind her to stop her. This turns out to be Matthias’ parents. His mother died by suicide when he was very little, and he does not remember her at all. His father tried his best to save her, but it was of no use. Moving on, Matthias becomes obsessed with a conspiracy theory that involves his father and determines to get to the bottom of it. Just one hint from his father was enough for him to leave everything and start searching for evidence of the incident in the factory. Despite looking mad and indifferent, Matthias actually cares a lot about what his father thinks of him. All his life, he has craved approval and love. Like any dysfunctional father-son relationship, theirs was no different. Matthias always wanted to be good enough for his dad to love him. But after Michelle’s suicide, Pol couldn’t live on like usual and couldn’t face Matthias. This led them to face a massive rift in their relationship.
Furthermore, there could have been one more reason for Matthias to dive into the factory’s workings and find the truth. As mentioned earlier, he makes a living off of social media, and as he finds clues and makes a breakthrough, he always records it and livestreams it for all his followers to see. Matthias could have seen this case as a way to gain more followers because who does not love a good mystery story that vindicates an innocent man? During the time he works on the case, he gains many more likes and followers, which could have been an ulterior motive on his part. This comment speaks to today’s reality, where people are most concerned with how their social media profile looks. They embellish their profiles with only the best parts of life and keep their low points to themselves.
Matthias’s relationship with his girlfriend, Liv, also changes as he works on the factory floor day and night. Their equation starts with romance and love, but gradually they grow distant and don’t have time for each other anymore. With reduced communication, they don’t share their concerns or troubles with each other and rather choose to stay silent. The one major argument they have shows what a small ego Matthias has. In the beginning, he seems to be fine taking care of his kid, Julius. However, as he becomes more stressed, he puts all the blame on Liv for not taking care of Julius, as he wakes up at night crying. They also have a fight over matters such as who makes more money and who does more work. This further displays how their relationship has been superficial to date. They don’t speak about the important matters that make a relationship stronger.
In the end, when Michelle’s real cause of suicide comes forward, we learn how Matthias inherited the same from his mother. He became more paranoid and anxious day by day, just like Michelle did. He gets annoyed at loud sounds, is triggered by certain visuals, and grows distrustful of everyone around him. The hereditary issues plague both mother and son alike. We don’t know for sure if any incident or tragedy took place at the factory or if it was just a facet of Matthias’s paranoia. Nonetheless, we believe the latter since his mental condition was not stable enough to comprehend the events of the past.
Liv is shown as a very carefree and lively person from the beginning. She loves cooking and works as a caterer. As soon as they settle into the new house, Liv goes out to explore and see her surroundings. She is also a very friendly and amicable person who is loved everywhere she goes. Her character is not shown as much as we would have liked, but we get enough insight to learn how supportive and kind she is. Although she should have spoken to Matthias alone when she noticed something was off, her concern was valid enough to call her brother for help. Liv is a wonderful mother, as she takes care of Julius with so much love and affection.
The one thing that bothered Liv the most was that Matthias never talked to her about his mother. She was unaware of what had happened in the past and what made Michelle die by suicide. This made her feel disconnected from her boyfriend and unable to help him when needed. Once she learns what happened, she runs over to Matthias to help him out and care for him as he needs. We wish to have seen more of Liv’s character to get a deeper perspective on her personality and her actions.
Pol is Matthias’s dad and Michelle’s husband. Ever since the love of his life died, Pol has not been the same. He became delusional and had visions of Michelle even as he grew older. Somehow, we believe, Pol neglected Matthias when he was a kid because he was reminded of Michelle every time he saw him. That explains why Pol and Matthias grew apart and never really loved each other. Pol also distanced himself from everyone else after his wife died. He did not feel like talking to anyone or socializing. That is understandable since Pol seemed to blame himself for what happened to Michelle. He is ridden with guilt, as he wishes to have been with her and supported her as she needed.
For obvious reasons, Pol could never love anyone as much as he loved Michelle. And as the lady in the market also expressed, nobody was ever good enough for Pol; only Michelle came close. Losing her impacted Pol to a deeper extent. Surprisingly, so many years after her death, Pol could see her face as clear as day in front of her. He mistakes Liv for Michelle when she visits him in the retirement home. With all his heart, Pol only wishes to see the love of his life again and be with her for the rest of his life. It shows the kind of love they shared and the bond they had.