Netfix: Berberian Sound Studio
When I first saw this trailer for Berberian Sound Studio, I was completely enthralled. I waited and waited, then procrastinated a bit, and finally caught it on Netflix. I think it’s fair to say that I was not disappointed.
Built on the mythos of 1970s Italian giallo films and the visceral nature of sound, Berberian Sound Studio conveys a beautifully nightmarish atmosphere, blending the lines between fiction and reality by playing with elements such as entrapment and gradual disillusionment of time. The audience also never actually sees any footage from the film itself – much like Pontypool, it’s what you don’t see that frightens you.
In addition, we also witness a fantastic transformation of character, considering what we have to work with. I say this because we really don’t know much about Gilderoy (Toby Jones) to begin with, other than he’s meek, polite, lives with his mom, and is a fantastic sound engineer (or at least good enough to be brought in by an enthusiastic director). Suddenly he is brought in to a completely foreign environment, working on a genre he’s never approached before. Despite being disturbed by the content of the film, he finds solace in his work – until he’s forced to take part in the foley work. From this point on things get increasingly hostile, as well as bizarre. As foretold in the synopsis, fiction and reality intertwine, and Gilderoy is thrust into his own private hell – inevitably mutating from witness to perpetrator.
The meta nature of Berberian Sound Studio is something to admire. Perhaps it’s because I really enjoy films about filmmaking, but this one particularly struck my fancy when it came to audience immersion. We’re trapped with Gilderoy in his reality, or lack thereof – so are these people really as rude as they seem to be? Considering some of the actresses’ woes, yes, probably, but it leaves Gilderoy’s interactions up to interpretation for the most part.
With its seamless editing and intangibly stirring qualities, Berberian Sound Studio is a film you simply have to experience.
Finally, a movie about sound design and engineering that is entirely enthralling!
I really wish the footage we do get to see didn’t look like it was shot hi-def with an added film-grain.
This is a film that speaks solely in subjective terms, therefore, we’re only dealing with pure human nastiness.