Matthew Saville's Noise has some thematic similarities to James Mangold's Copland, as an underachieving policeman must fight through his hearing loss and the resulting depression while working a high-profile case. But the comparison ends there. This Australian thriller-drama is a wholly original creation, interested in mood and depth of character more than plot. This isn't to say there's something wrong with Saville's story, just that it takes a back seat to the atmosphere he creates, particularly in the temporary "cop shop" set up in a sleepy Melbourne suburb, where Constable Graham McGahan (Brendan Cowell) is marooned on night shifts. McGahan's steady immersion in the local community has a creeping emotional resonance as the audience becomes more invested in his diminishing hearing, while Saville's ear for dialogue, so to speak, gets at the film's underlying existential questions in the form of authentic blue-collar philosophizing. Saville finds an excellent collaborator in Cowell, who has a lock on audience sympathy even while sharing few traits with the typical hero. In particular, he's not actually all that capable of solving these potentially related murders, which in a Hollywood film would be his only path to redemption over his problems. Rather, the audience likes Graham McGahan simply because they can relate to him as a decent guy who projects an unfocused idea of goodness into the world. And relate to him they do, as Philippe Decrausaz and Emma Bortignon's imaginative sound design gives the audience a vicarious sense of the eternal ringing in McGahan's ears, among other cacophonous sounds. What's impressive about Noise is how Saville incorporates large-scale themes into a fundamentally small and intimate film, whose final shot serves as a perfect summation of those ideas -- both the ones above the surface and those too subtle to clearly be heard.