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.

There will be produce.

There will be produce.

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.

The Good
Finally, a movie about sound design and engineering that is entirely enthralling!

The Bad
I really wish the footage we do get to see didn’t look like it was shot hi-def with an added film-grain.

The Ugly
This is a film that speaks solely in subjective terms, therefore, we’re only dealing with pure human nastiness.

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About reelgirl

Film lover, kitsch enthusiast, and all around neat gal. You can read what I'm up to at Reel Girl Reviews!

Posted on January 5, 2014, in Netfix and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. There are movies I would have enjoyed at your age that I don’t enjoy at my age, and this is one of them.
    I spotted it at the local library (I was surprised too!) so I thought I’d give it a spin. About 15 minutes in I sped it up to 1.5x and it still drags… although the woman doing the sound effects for the witches at about 20 min was a lot more effective at high speed.
    Okay, just had the intruder at the door. That wasn’t bad. Hmmm…. suddenly it’s getting interesting. Does he turn into Roman Polanski and toss himself out a window in a dress? No, don’t tell me. I might just make it through to the end of the movie now.

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