Review by Jordan
Directed by Peter Strickland
Starring Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco, Tonia Sotiropoulou
With Evil Dead, Antiviral, John Dies at the End and To the Wonder yet to reach Australia, a frontrunner for my favourite film of the year has arrived in Berberian Sound Studio.
When Toby Jones’ conservative British documentary sound mixer Gilderoy travels to Italy to work on a graphic Giallo in the mould of Argento/latter day Fulci, he finds himself embroiled in a severe case of life-imitating-art as this new, suppressive world and baroque genre gradually engross his mind and methods. The deeper Gilderoy envelopes himself in the world of notorious director Santini, the more he loses his grip on reality, and it doesn’t take long for nightmares to begin surfacing from his subconscious and altering his initially placid world perspective… with both troubling and captivating results.
Berberian Sound Studio has been likened to David Lynch meets Roman Polanski via the Italian horror film, but while I would love very much to witness a movie such as this, it is not a fair comparison… Berberian really is its own unique and surprising beast. The brave style director Peter Strickland employs in relying nearly entirely on audible thrills (never do we witness any scene from the film Gilderoy is working on; The Equestrian Vortex) is as effective as it is inventive, and only serves to heighten the hallucinatory sense of paranoia and homesickness our protagonist is experiencing. I should also point out just how excellent Toby Jones is here; for too long he has been playing the thankless supporting role and it’s refreshing to see him finally utilised closer to full capacity. Other terrific performances come from Cosimo Fusco as the film’s increasingly oppressive producer and Tonia Sotiropoulou as the studio’s ice-cold secretary; there really isn’t a weak link in sight.
The brilliant British Film Council that contributed to getting this made (as well as instant classics The Wind that Shakes the Barley and This is England) is now a victim of Government cut-backs and a lack of recognition, but we can at least be thankful of what was able to be achieved during its time in existence. If you’re looking for something completely new and original, this is it.
5 sliced watermelons out of 5.