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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Movie Review - Berberian Sound Studio

Berberian Sound Studio (2013)
Starring Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco and Antonio Mancino 
Directed by Peter Strickland
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

From wikipedia:  giallo -- Giallo films are an Italian 20th century subgenre of film...characterized as gruesome murder mystery thrillers...with scenes of shocking horror featuring excessive bloodletting, stylish camerawork, and often jarring musical arrangements...typically introduce strong psychological themes of madness, alienation, and paranoia.

British sound engineer Gilderoy (Toby Jones) heads over to Italy in the early 1970s after taking a job working on director Giancarlo Santini's (Antonio Mancino) newest film.  Already shot, Gilderoy will be working on the sound effects and perfecting all the looping and voiceover necessary to make Santini's film come together.  One of Santini's producers, Francesco Coraggio (Cosimo Fusco), is Gilderoy's overbearing and slightly scary boss and tires quickly of Gilderoy's insistence on perfection.

And that's it.  That's all the plot Berberian Sound Studio has to offer.  As the film progresses, director Peter Strickland mimics some of the typical shots, sounds, and tones of 1970s Italian gialli flicks, but Gilderoy's sense of madness, alienation, and paranoia aren't enough to elevate this to anything remotely recommendable (and the reasons he feels such madness, alienation, and paranoia are vague and seemingly unfounded).  Admittedly, for the first half of the film, I bought into the premise thinking that ultimately I'd get some type of payoff in the end.  That payoff never came.  Instead, the film just flounders in its second half as it attempts to become thrilling and tense, but never succeeds.  To boot, Toby Jones' mousy performance isn't nearly captivating enough to carry the film.

The one thing this film has going for it -- and it's actually a moderately admirable trait -- is that it really does a fantastic job explaining what foley artists do for films.  The sound (and effects) in this one are really top notch and probably should have been at the very least talked about for consideration at the Oscars this past year.  However, the rest of Berberian Sound Studio was a huge snooze.

The RyMickey Rating:  D

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