Noise (Ruido) - Spoiler Free Movie Review
This might be one of the darkest, most horrifying portrayals of ethical decay & systemic corruption. A necessarily uncomfortable watch, yet one I won’t revisit so fast!
Original Title: Ruido
Genre: Crime / Drama
Director: Natalia Beristáin
Cast: Julieta Egurrola, Teresa Ruiz, Arturo Beristáin, Priscela Izquierdo, Adrián Vazquez, Érick Israel Consuelo & Mariana Giménez.
Run Time: 105 min.
US Release: 11 January 2023 (Netflix)
UK Release: 11 January 2023 (Netflix)
German Release: 11 January 2023 (Netflix)
Mexican Release: 05 January 2023 (limited)
On the first of January, when I set out to create my list of Netflix releases to watch this month, I stumbled across this title. Being of Spanish descent, I was intrigued to see what a Mexican Netflix production would look like, especially in Latin American Spanish. I wasn’t expecting much, as the trailer was not convincing, but when the end credits started rolling, I was completely drained of any emotions. Be warned right now, because this is not an easy watch for a Friday eve couch night. It is painful, uncomfortable, and yet a must-watch!
Julia is one of many mothers, sisters, daughters, colleagues, whose lives have been shattered to pieces, in a corrupted country that wages war against its women. Desperately searching for her missing daughter, Julia embarks on a journey coming into contact with many other women who are sharing her pain.
Ruido is directed, as well as co-written, by female Mexican director Natalia Beristáin, who tackles the uncomfortable truth about the high rate of abductions, after the Mexican government declared a war on drugs. Most of these abductions are covered up by politicians, just like the police themselves, who collaborate with the cartels. It also tackles the issue of misogyny in the country, as it is mostly women that are targeted, be it due to their attractive looks, because they seek answers to the disappearance of lost ones, or because they openly criticise the government and law.
While the story of Julia is fictional, Beristáin makes sure to let audiences know that it is based on facts, as thousands of women go through this daily in Mexico. This also leads the filmmaker to tackle the picture more like a procedural documentary, giving the account a realistic basis. The message is direct, creating a painfully touching experience that leaves viewers emotionally drained at the end.
It also comes with a few imperfections, though nothing that would interfere with enjoyment. For one, the pacing can be a little off at times, containing a few slow scenes. Then there is the fact that it solely gives feminism a voice. While I do understand why that was chosen; the oppression of women in a country, as well as displaying the pain from a mother’s perspective is more potent. It does, however, not only affect women, it is also young men, plus boys who have been kidnapped, even killed.
Conversations are filled with hopelessness and pain; the heavy conscious burden of a parent is carried onto the audience. It makes fair use of mature language, including profanities. I would recommend watching it in Spanish with subtitles, as the emotional point is transmitted better.
The narrative focuses mostly on Julia’s journey to find her daughter. There are only a few characters the plot focuses on.
Julieta Egurrola, who not only is a Mexican veteran actress but also director Beristáin’s real mother, plays Julia. We open up, with her morning routine after waking up, feeling instantly sympathetic to her, as she seems to be lonely. That sentiment is only intensified when we find out that her daughter went missing and the police are useless to give her any further information. Egurrola gives a great rendition of her character, communicating the struggle she goes through, in search of her missing daughter.
Teresa Ruiz, as Abril, a reporter and prominent side-character who is partially responsible for the transformation Julia makes, through the course of the runtime. Abril, who has a small girl herself, is fighting alongside the protagonist, to make sure her daughter has a brighter future. Ruiz gave another beautiful performance, never distracting audiences away from the main theme.
The cinematography is the feature's strongest quality, delivering arthouse-like pictures, drenched in symbolism, such as the barren open landscape in which Julia finds herself at times. It is a metaphor for the emptiness in her life, after the disappearance of her child. The unfocused, distorted segments, make it clear that it is an image of her mind, where as much as she cries, no one can hear her. Those shots are usually paired with the emergence of her tinnitus, in times of emotional distress. Further interesting takes, use reflecting images of mirrors, windows, etc.
Lens distortion is used in a couple of scenes, to create dream-like imagery. That said, the director does not make use of any special effects for this movie. It takes a more documentarian approach, to drench the narrative in realism. Makeup and wardrobe are contemporary.
The sound design is eerie, especially when the high-pitched noise of the tinnitus kicks in or noise is drowned out, deafening specific scenes. The music by Pablo Chemor is barely existent, consisting of simple piano notes, accompanied by bass or pan flute melodies.
Verdict: Noise can be considered as the fictional counterpart of Natalia Beristáin’s 2019 short documentary Nosotras, which portrays the violence towards women in Mexico, be it from the smallest domestic abuse to actual femicide by gangs. Her newest movie showcases exactly that, on a grander scale, and it is not simply women this time. Yes, the focus still lies on the misogyny within the country, though it is also covered that cartel violence can also make entire families disappear. The director's mother, Julieta Egurrola, plays the main character in this crime drama, giving a heartbreaking performance. This is balanced out by a more levelled portrayal of Teresa Ruiz, as journalist Abril. The cinematography is possibly the best part, containing a lot of metaphorical imagery. Ruido is very poignant and direct in what it tries to tell its audience, yet as it is released on the giant’s streaming platform, it runs the danger of drowning among Netflix’s mediocracy. I will give it a well-deserved 8.5 out of 10.
If you can handle extremely heavy stories, that will leave you numb for a couple of days… go watch it! It is shocking but worth it! Thank you for reading!