Berberian Sound Studio

Berberian Sound Studio

****

Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

This is the proverbial curate's egg of a film: good in parts.

The story is straightforward: in the 1970s a British soundman, Gilderoy (Toby Jones), is hired by an Italian director to work on his film, where the dialogue (we never see the images) suggests something akin to Dario Argento's horror films Suspiria or Inferno, but which the director insists is an auteur rather than a genre work.


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Peter Strickland's direction and writing initially impresses. He clearly knows his stuff, whether the faux solarised and rotoscoped titles (think A Bay of Blood); the extreme close-ups of reel to reel tape recorders (think A Lizard In A Woman's Skin or Deep Red); the black leather gloved hand (think just about any giallo) that starts the projector running, or the red telephone (think Blood And Black Lace) used by a receptionist.

If you're a fan of gialli and horror all'italiana you'll enjoy playing spot the homage. If you're not a lot of the imagery and dialogue will simply go past you.

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The big problem with the film (besides the absence of the J&B or Punt e mes bottle) is that it doesn't really go anywhere. Weird shit happens to Gilderoy, just as weird shit happens to Suzy Banyon in Suspiria, but it is not developed.

The two things that rescue the film are the performance by Jones, as someone far removed from the typical male lead, and the attention paid to sound design. Composer Michel Chion would love this film.

Reviewed on: 26 Jun 2012
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In the 1970s, a British sound technician is brought to Italy to work on the sound effects for a gruesome horror film where his nightmarish task slowly takes over his psyche.
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Director: Peter Strickland

Year: 2012

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: UK


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