The ‘missing child’ trope isn’t new to cinema. It is, however, often reserved for testosterone-powered action films like Taken or investigative thrillers such as Gone Baby Gone and Trade. What sets apart the Spanish film, Noise (Original title, Ruido), is not just the fact that it’s based on real-life incidents, but also how it uses the premise to shed light on systemic problems that continue to remain unaddressed.
Noise follows the tribulations of Julia (Julieta Egurrola) as she fights the system, the bureaucracy, the police and her personal trauma, while she looks for her missing daughter. Set in the barren lands of Mexico, the film throws us right in the middle of an ongoing revolution. While we are not made privy to the specificities of the issues, they form the background of the plot, which follows Julia with singular focus. It is through her struggles that the real-life stories of those searching for their loved ones are vindicated.
The film takes its time to unravel, but director Natalia Beristáin makes up for it with a rousing climax that brings the arduous search to a halt. As the story progresses, we get to know more about Julia; her son, who is worried about her; her ex-husband, who is exhausted by the search; and journalist Abril (Teresa Ruiz), who accompanies the protagonist. The narrative also brings to the fore the incompetence of the cops. When the fog clears, we understand how the cartels run the show in a ruthless way. It gives us an understanding of why the film often cuts to Julia’s mind, as we see her scream her lungs out.
Apart from passing the Bechdel test with flying colours, Noise also emerges as a tale of women’s perseverance. Julia’s external hassles and internal battles are brilliantly brought to screen, thanks to a strong technical team and a brilliant Egurrola, who aces the role of the person searching for a needle in
a haystack with just a small piece of magnet called hope. Although the morbid theme might discourage viewers from giving Noise a chance, the sensitive manner in which it spotlights the social faultlines, makes it an important film that is effective in running home the point that silence, amid a crisis, is never a solution.