Film review: Making Noise Quietly (2019)

Despite an excellent cast, Robert Holman’s Making Noise Quietly gains little in this transfer to the big screen

“I think you’re being very hard on him”

Being asked to review things is always a privilege but when the matter at hand is based on a play I found interminably dull, it can be a tricky business. Directed by Dominic Dromgoole, Making Noise Quietly is based on an elliptical triptych of short plays by Robert Holman, all centred on the human effects of war.

From 1944 to 1982 and then on again to 1996, the film examines how the shellshock of major conflict can reverberate all the way back to the home front, and the varying routes it can take. From conscientous objectors to death in service to inescapable cycles of abusive and violence, the scope is huge.

The trouble is just how inert this potentially evocative material feels in this treatment. Even putting my feelings about the play to one side, Dromgoole takes little advantage of the medium so that the prevailing atmosphere is one of intense staginess, there’s little sense of the requisite energy needed to make the film fly.

Performances are of course excellent across the board. Barbara Marten and Deborah Findlay are reliably powerful in their contrasting displays of emotion, and Trystan Gravelle and Luke Thompson are as pleasing as ever. But I’d struggle to recommend this as an effective cinematic experience.  

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