Now this is an interesting film and I don’t really know how to get across to you just what the film is like. It’s strange, surreal, intense, engrossing and I’m not sure I really get it but I still thought it was a really good film and I do recommend you see it. Now I’m going to keep this review short as, honestly, the less you know the more you’ll be immersed in the film.
Firstly, the film is anchored together by an incredible performance by one of my favourite actors, Toby Jones, who has been seriously under-utilised in big films recently (see him having only one line of dialogue in The Hunger Games) and in this film is given the chance to show off his full acting talents. Through Jones’ performance, in which he doesn’t really have all that much dialogue, we get to see everything that his character, Gilderoy, is feeling, his discomforts, his anxiety and his general unease over the whole situation and you also get a great feel for how he interacts with the other characters, from the general discomfort of dealing with Francesco and Santini to his relation with Silvia, the only person in Italy to treat him like a human being. This is the type of performance I love in a film, in which an actor can get across everything he is feeling by speaking very little and Jones absolutely nails it. My words cannot do justice to how incredible Jones’ performance is, you need to see the film and see for yourself just how good he is.
Another way the film works is the direction and sound. Now the film is about sound design on an Italian horror film in the 1970’s and, in a brilliant move, all you see of the film is the opening title sequence, everything else you only hear, both the pre-recorded soundtrack and all of the stuff Gilderoy has to do in the studio. It’s fascinating to see the methods that were used to create these sounds at the time and this really allows the film to utilise it’s strengths as, since the film is about sound design, the sound is the most important part. However, the best parts of the film are those without sound at all and I’m going to stop here before I give too much of the film away. Honestly, it’s best if you experience it yourself.
Then there is the plot and I don’t really know if I got it. The plot focus is about how these sort of films can mess with your mind, especially in the case of Gilderoy who is more used to nature documentaries and children’s TV. As the film progresses, you see that Gilderoy is starting to lose his mind as he becomes engrossed in the film and it’s here where some people can have problems with the film. The film becomes more and more surreal as it goes on, reflecting the changes in Gilderoy’s mind and it’s whether you understand these scenes or not that reflects whether you’ll like the film. For me, I don’t really know, these scenes were brilliantly handled but it’ll probably take some repeat viewings for me to fully understand what’s going on.
I think I should stop here before I give too much of the film away but what I’ll end with is a recommendation for this film. Now it could be hard to find a cinema screening of the film, as I saw it, and it’s clear through the fact that it’s about the mechanics of cinema that this is meant to be seen in a cinema. Although if you are interested in the film and you cannot watch it in the cinema, then it’s available on Curzon on Demand for UK viewers and for those of you from America reading this then you will probably have to wait for it to come out on DVD if it’s not playing near you. Still, the work is worth it, just for the incredible performance from Toby Jones, I can’t guarantee you’ll like it but if you were intrigued by this review then you should watch Berberian Sound Studio.
My Rating: 4/5