Berberian Sound Studio

Director: Peter Strickland (2012)
Starring: Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Cosimo Fusco
Find it: IMDB

The sort of movie you can't say you dislike without folks going "yeah, well, you didn't get it, man" and, "well, yeah, but this isn't a horror film, is it?" or "what's the matter? Bodycount not high enough for you, psycho?" Well raspberries (the sound effect, not the fruit) to the lot of you; I did not like Berberian Sound Studio at all.

Aside from a commendable performance from Toby Jones, there's not much about the film I really enjoyed. Steeped in European horror history, it looks and sounds utterly groovy (with a title like that, it had better sound the dog's bollocks) and should win over a lot of horror fans on the basis of that alone. Critics and horror historians such as Kim Newman and Mark Gatiss should love this film. I should love this film. I really wanted to. It wears its influences on the same sleeve as the black leather Giallo gloves it uses to make all those glorious sound effects. All those vegetables being smashed up with hammers - Berberian Sound Studio made me hungry, more than anything else.

"You just don't get it, do you?" Unfortunately, there's not much to 'get'. It's an interesting story, about a man struggling to cope in a demanding job. I used to work at the refunds & exchanges counter at Primark; dude, I get it. Someone threw a pair of underpants in my face once and yelled "happy Christmas!" at me (this was the middle of March). I know what it's like to work in a place where barely anyone speaks your language and everyone keeps shouting at you. I work in retail. Drowning cauliflower be damned, the atmosphere at Primark beats that of an Italian sound studio into a cocked cocking hat.

Ahem. But you don't give a fuck about that. Is Berberian Sound studio a good film? It's technically quite brilliant, and many will (and do) love it. For me, something just didn't hit home, and I found it to be a hollow experience. I don't want to start bandying about words like 'pretentious' and 'wanky' but you can see how some might construe it as such. Ultimately, it's the harrowing story of a man desperately trying to get someone to refund the expenses on his flight receipt. Terrifying.

Berberian Sound Studio sounds like a winner but, for me, something was lost in translation. Maybe I just wasn't listening properly. I know, what a barbarian.   

1 comment:

  1. It's not for everyone, that's for sure. I think this movie was near perfection as a thriller, but in a way, I was expecting something...visceral at least.