Easily one of the strangest films I’ve seen in years, Berberian Sound Studio perplexes but continues to entertain for reasons unknown. It’s an incredibly simple premise: an Englishman (Toby Jones) travels to a sound stage to work on a 1970s Italian horror film as their sound mixer. He’s a talented man, and Jones portrays him as a struggling enigma; the lack of characterization in concrete form only works because of Jones’ convincing nature. We never see the actual footage from the film that they’re working on, yet we constantly hear of the contents, which grow more and more graphic. Our protagonist becomes uncomfortable, and begins seeing certain things that potentially mirror the film.
Then things get weird. This is such a strange film, an abstract one that reminds me of many quotes I hear from directors like David Lynch. Effectively, a film doesn’t have to make sense in every regard, but should make us think and make us feel. This one does just that: it’s unnerving, unflinching, and possibly a horror film in and of itself. At one point there’s a film within a film, providing for some trippy cuts that only startle the viewer all the more. Yet this is undeniably a confident film, an assured one directed with remarkable prowess by Strickland. It’s a fascinating movie, one that ends on a fitting note. Not only is this a very good film, but it might be the most definitive on sound mixing ever created.
Grade: ★★★★ (out of 5)