My boyfriend and I have come to a new arrangement when it comes to picking what movie to watch in the evenings. We have quite different tastes in films so choosing one we both like is almost completely out of the question. Instead, we both chose 20 films, wrote them on little pieces of paper and now we literally pick one out of a hat. Well actually it’s more of a bowl than a hat. The first movie that was picked out was, of course, one of his choices: Berberian Sound Studio. Now, I do not often write movie reviews so I’m no reliable or respectable critic, but it was absolutely one of the worst films I have ever seen.
The premise is fairly simple, and actually sparked my curiosity to begin with. It follows a bog-standard white, middle-class man in a tight grey suit, with a tightly pulled face and heavily receding hairline who works as a sound technician for movies. He arrives in a new studio in Italy to work with these very aggressive and overtly sexual Italians on a horror film. The movie is basically about him and these people creating the sound effects to accompany the horror film. But you never see the film, nor understand it as it’s in Italian or Latin, or a mix of the two. Perhaps we were watching a dodgy copy but there were no subtitles. And half of the actors speak to each other in Italian and half way through the main character, the only English speaker we can rely on, decides he now understands and speaks fluent Italian. But I doubt it would have been much better even with subtitles, it’s hardly a complicated or compelling storyline and I don’t feel I missed much reading only facial expressions and dramatic gestures.
Apart from the heavily stereotyped and badly portrayed characters, the film itself has no story and no original or exciting qualities. The main character seems put out and on edge the whole way through and I suppose there is supposed to be some kind of over lapping between the violence of the movie they are working on and the reality in the movie. But this is not conveyed. It is just scene after scene of different ways in which they make the sounds, the plans and notes for the sounds, but no context to what the sounds mean. Everything is so taken out of context that I could not get into the ‘creeped out’ state of mind that the eerie background music implied I should be in. It seems more like a dramatized documentary of the making of a movie rather than an actual movie.
The interactions between characters have tension but with no real force, no rhyme or reason. The only decent scene was where the main character gets woken up in the middle of the night by someone banging on his door, he gets scared, shouts, gets a knife and opens the door. Upon opening the door he then finds himself not outside his place, but in the studio watching a recording of the events that have just occurred but dubbed in Italian. This is then followed by some strange kaleidoscopic mash of images of him screaming, random colours and god knows what else which ends rather abruptly and cuts to a few minutes of a typical, day-time TV documentary of the English countryside. Boxhill, I believe it was, discussing the rare orchids and other flora and fauna that attract visitors from all around – apparently. This scene had no clear relevance to the rest of the film.
The film had scope to be a good film, but flopped massively. The flashing red “SILENZIO” outside the studio is shown every ten minutes and there is complete over usage of cutting from loud noises to silence to emphasise that they are in a studio. Seriously, am I missing something here? I hope we did just watch a bad copy and no one commissioned such a terrible film to be produced. If anyone out there has watched it and thinks I am being unfair then I implore you to please let me know what on earth was going on. But if you haven’t watched it, please just don’t. Life is short and your time is better spent waiting for a broken kettle to boil that trying to find some good in this abomination.
Hopefully, the next film that comes out of the hat (bowl) will be better. Hopefully, it will be one of mine 😉