1976. A mild-mannered British sound engineer named Gilderoy arrives in Rome to work on the post-synchronized soundtrack to The Equestrian Vortex, a tale of witchcraft and murder. As the line between film and reality blurs, is Gilderoy working on a film – or in one?
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A Giallo mise en abyme. If you aren't familiar with giallo filmmaking, you end up falling into a never-ending fractal. It is about experiencing the atmosphere of giallo and glorifying the labor of it's sound production.
Mr. stylish turns to Cinema itself and intends to do an exercise in style over the pulverization of universes, the reality and the cinematic, by merging them organically. About sound in cinema, Coppola and De Palma, this one also in a tangential to the "gialio", made seminal film-exercises and it's exactly the appeal of these movies what is the most interesting here. The rest are "more eyes than belly" .
Film within a film within a film. If you really love cinema and more specifically Italian gialli of the late 60's and early 70's, Berberian Sound Studio will be a delicatesssen for you. If you aren't really into it, you'll consider this movie as an overlong little fantastic tale with interesting actors, that's all. So recommended for my concern and zone don't bother for the beta viewer.
Is the studio an onscreen representation of the character's disintegrating psyche, or like the purgatory of a protagonist caught in limbo between life and death? Like the Hollywood fantasia of Mulholland Dr., the studio seems a place where the character attempts to reconcile his failure of life at the moment of death; the projection of how things could have been soon distorted by the ugliness of how they really were.
Saw this in the cinema, & the theatre is definitely the optimum environment to experience the amazing use of sound. Following on from his wonderful debut, Katalin Varga, this film demonstrates Strickland's directorial range, ambition, potential, & also his influences, with plenty here for fans of Giallo - Strickland is a rarity: a British filmmaker whose films cinephiles can look forward to with genuine expectation.
Very little of the film inspired more than annoyance in me. It gets all Lynch-y toward the end but it felt like a student film imitation of Lynch rather than a unique vision. Where Lynch captures and audience and dumps them in a nightmarish world Strickland just shows us the landscape and hopes that's enough. Aimless surreality.
"When giallo works for me, it’s when it becomes more ethereal and atmospheric. When I watch those films, I don’t go into it for the narrative or for the sadism, just to experience that atmosphere. It’s the same with a Jordan Belson film or a Stan Brakhage film. Berberian was constructed to be the same way." Strickland on his approach/execution. Well done sir.
The premise is amazing. The set-ups are all amazing. The sound design (as everyone has already stated) is amazing. Near the 90-minute mark, you're waiting for everything to collapse into place and for several payoffs to be made that are going to blow your mind. Then the screen goes black, and you / the audience look around and wonder if the projector broke. Then the sensation of disappointment begins to sinks in.