Till Human Voices Wake Us ReView

Till Human Voices Wake Us – a film that may come across as dreamy or sluggish, depending on your point of view. Directed and written by Australian Michael Petroni, the story is split between the teenage and adult life of Sam Franks.

The movie opens with Sam (Lindley Joyner) as a teen, returning to his father’s house in the Victorian country on his school break.

His father is barely home, so Sam spends most of his time with his handicapped neighbour and friend, Sylvy (Brooke Harman).

Together they wander through the outskirts of the town, equally ambitious and thoughtful. They unveil the simplicities of life and explore what it means to live.

The questions they pose to one another are poetic, and the beauty of the scenes only enhance the truths shared.

One night, as the pair float on a nearby river, holding hands and watching the stars, Sylvy slips beneath the surface. Her body is never found.

The film then enters the adult life of Sam (Guy Pearce). Twenty years later he is teaching psychology at a Melbourne institute. After being notified of his father’s death, he travels back to his home-town where the burial is to be held.

His arrival is interrupted when he sees someone standing on the edge of the bridge above the river Sylvy disappeared in. The mysterious woman (Helena Bonham Carter) falls into the water below and Sam pursues her.

He takes her to his father’s abandoned house to rest and feels a strange sense of familiarity as he watches over her. When she wakes, he is unable learn anything about her, other than her name: ‘Ruby’.

Sam hypnotises her, in order to discover who she is and where she lives, but she runs into the night part way through.

He chases her, first filled with panic, later with curiosity as he finds he is being led through all of his and Sylvy’s old grounds.

He follows her through and around the quiet town, compelled by the comfortable feeling that he has found his lost love in Ruby. In an attempt to recollect his memories of Sylvy, he shows Ruby places they used to go to and tells her their stories.

Eventually she asks him to take her ‘home’. The end of this scene inspires both sorrow and relief at the end to the intensity.

 Sam leads Ruby to Sylvy’s old house, where she believes she needs to die. He carries her body down to the river, wrapping her in his jacket and placing her in a boat. He swims alongside it, yet when he looks into it he finds only his coat.

It could be a psychological mystery, it could be too ‘art house’. It could be bittersweet, it could be a bore.

No matter what the interpretation, this film contemplates the experimental beauties of life – and while it does pose more questions than it cares to answer, it also represents the many truths within life.

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