Thursday, 18 October 2012


A lulling sophomore film from director Peter Strickland, Berberian Sound Studio is bold and features many starling moments. But Strickland's assured direction alleviates the more extreme aspects in the context of the whole, and counteracts moments of horror and humour without sacrificing focus. Each step is a component of the entire work, and contributes to a complete experience, in its own, unique sub-genre. His love of the process of filmmaking is evident - naturally, as it is a subject of this film - perhaps too evident, as the film lacks as strong a structure as it might have benefitted from. The enthusiasm with which the art of sound recording is depicted is most effective, but it is a little too prevalent too early. More gradation in this, and in tension, may have further enriched the atmospheric qualities which Berberian Sound Studio already has in abundance. But Strickland is as interested in film construction as in film deconstruction, and he knocks the perplexing final few scenes off-kilter enough that they linger in the mind, pieces of a puzzle which I don't think is intended to be solvable. He's also interested in his lead, whose development is more successfully gradated, and through whom all of this is rendered, with a knowingness and subtlety that attest to the confidence with which this film has been made. Toby Jones has much to accomplish here, and more still when one considers the introversion that dictates his character's every thought and action, and Jones' work is so neat that one might not even recognise its calabre. Such also applies to the film as a whole - it's so effective that its impressive depth and breadth of quality could pass unnoticed. There's not a weak link in either cast or crew. The soundtrack is sublimely satisfying, and not once more so than when it withdraws, in a scene significant in ways I'm not fully aware of. A mesmeric film that is both more and less complex than it might seem.