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[BD Review] ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ Is Punishing, Self-Indulgent Art

Boy, was I excited to see this film. I’d heard great things. I love the world – the concept of a sound designer working with an iconic Italian horror director during the 1970s, a time when all Italian genre films were shot without sound and designed with different spoken languages during post-production, is brilliant. Great cast. Obviously quality production values. So know that if I say I hated this movie, I went into it with more than an open mind. And I HATED this movie.

Berberian Sound Studio is self indulgent filmmaking that’s so arrogant, and so self consumed that it completely forgets about the audience. It’s a pretentious art piece solely made for film snobs – I can’t even imagine a single Bloody reader making it through its entirety. Collective sighs and groans littered the theater between each obnoxious transition (where “Silencio” flashes across the screen), and each moment of on screen silence was interrupted by the sounds of people shuffling to rush out of the theater.

Only one word is needed to describe Berberian Sound Studio: “exhausting”.

By the time the end credits roll the audience will be emotionally exhausted – especially after watching countless scenes go nowhere; it’s not just boring, it’s punishing. Toby Jones is incredibly underused (it’s insulting to cast such a talent and then castrate him), being that his character also never evolves by the final frame. If anything, the movie never progresses past the first act as the final hour just continually repeats itself – It’s like fighting in circles with your ex-girl/boyfriend for an hour (remember how much fun that was?).

Berberian Sound Studio is a calling card for Peter Strickland. It’s an incredibly well shot piece of art that puts on display how talented he is as a director – but not as a storyteller. And while beautifully crafted, it’s impossible to recommend this to anyone who hopes to have an entertaining movie-going experience.




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