Star - Toby Jones
Genre - Psychological Drama
Run Time - 92 minutes
Country - UK
Blockbuster Rental- £1.49per night
Amazon -£ DVD (£Blue Ray)
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If you are a regular film fan then don't watch this, simple as. This is art house cinema and for critics only, made for them not us, director Peter Strickland doing everything thing he possibly can to make his vision and your entrance from the movie theater. It's a shame he has chosen to resort to niche arty stuff already as he made the rather powerful subtitled film Katalina Varga quite recently, another journey into sound and foreboding torment, although with a narrative a beginning and an ending that time. Berberian Sound Studio is hard work.
It stars Toby Jones, that odd little balding chap that played Truman Capote, an actor that can only really play certain rolls, odd little balding chaps. He has done a lot of movies and you would know him if you saw him but never the leading man, a Hobbit here and a wizard there, rather sad that a talented actor's career is dictated by his size and looks. It's not a bad performance though. It's the best he could do, considering. But it was rated and on the cheap rack at Blockbusters so gave it a go.
Tonia Sotiropoulou as ... Elena
Toby Jones as ... Gilderoy
Susanna Cappellaro as ... Veronica
Cosimo Fusco as ... Francesco
Suzy Kendall as ... Gilderoy's mother
Chiara D'Anna ... Elisa
Hilda Péter ... Auditionee
Fatma Mohamed ... Silvia
Antonio Mancino ... Santini
Eugenia Caruso ... Claudia
=== The Plot===
It's the 1970s and an old school sound effects man, Gilderoy (Toby Jones), has arrived in Italy to make a film, The Equestrian Vortex, at the Berberian Sound Studios, made famous by director Dario Argento.
As usual with the Italians the cheques are late and the accommodation only just satisfactory, his job to make do and mend and finish the soundtrack. He doesn't do the musical scores but uses various vegetables and objects to make the other soundtrack, that of the knife going into the muscle and sinew or a body falling from a window, uncomfortable that he is being asked to do a horror film, all but banging two coconuts together at one point for the Gothic carriage on the gravel drive.
Trying to settle in he begins to get sucked into the sense of despair in the film and uses his box of tricks in full crescendo. But the director (Cosimo Fusco) still hasn't paid him and the female actresses and secretary (Susanna Cappellaro) more interesting in bonking the director than appreciating Gilderoy's craft or helping him settle in. The lead actress and divisive Elena (Tonia Sotiropoulou) does take an interest in the Englishman and a gentle flirtation of sorts, a dichotomy as he is hardly attractive and has no influence to offer her on the film.
For some reason the film gets to Gilderoy and you sense the screams and images maybe more real than they should be and what exactly has Gilderoy got himself into here? His mind is beginning to unravel as he somehow becomes part of the horror film on the screen as the two consciousnesses meld, at one point seeing himself on the screen...
Although this as pitched as horror it's not remotely scary. The psycho thriller side isn't that much either. I think this one will appeal to only one man on dooyoo and ciao. Hogsflesh. This is genre horror at its most niche, time and appeal, the film Suspiria coming to mind, Argento, of course.
The critic's websites like Metacritic loved it. A big disparity between the fans voting and those critics though, just 52% of the punters liking it on Rottentomatos to the critics 83%. There is just not enough here for the proper film experience and once it becomes clear it's not going where you think and hope then you lose ones interest. It really is just the director's mind unleashing his vision and sound of that vision and sound. Ok, the gory film and Gothic small town Italy overwhelm our man but why would he lose his mind? Yes I'm sure it's a complex metaphor of sound, vision and the conscious mind melding that's over my head but if you don't make it obvious it simply becomes the bloated short film it was expanded from, which this was.
There are some interesting cinematic bits and craft on show and the idea fair enough but it needed to at least attempt to be somewhere near a conventional horror film. It must have been a tough sell for the director to pitch, let alone sell it. It's Kill List for me if you want to see what our exciting young directors are up to as Ben Wheatley's film simply has more menace and intrigue. Peter Strickland has the talent, that there's no doubt, even his name having that classic ring to it, but this is to self-indulgent for me and I will leave it to Hoggy for the full dissection. There's great cinema work in this movie but it needed at least a story to keep you on board. Not scary, not freaky.
Imdb.com - 6.3/10.0 (35,745votes)
Metacrtic.com - 80% critic's approval
Rottentomatos.com - 83% critic's approval
The Sun -'Berberian Sound Studio is a film for critics. General public -- come at your own risk'.
Entertainment Weekly -'While it's a loving homage to movies like Dario Argento's Suspiria and is crafted with tons of style, it leaves out one key ingredient: being even remotely scary'.
Toronto Star -'Radishes, cabbages and melons meet horrific ends in Berberian Sound Studio, a down-the-earhole psychodrama where what you hear is more terrifying than what you see'
Boston Globe -'[It] not only exploits one of cinema's most important modes, it also attempts something more difficult: turning a genre movie into a work of art'.
Montreal Gazzette -'For much of British director Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio, not much actually happens. But for the devoted cinephile, it's utterly entrancing'.
The Washington times -'Ultimately, Berberian Sound Studio is just an exercise in meta -- a movie more about generating sensations than making sense -- but it's provocative and effective in the way it shows how a movie doesn't have to be "real" to be disturbing.'.
The Melbourne Age - 'A one-trick pony, but it's a reasonably cool trick'.
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