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William Goss

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Film critic. Wisenheimer. Member of the AFCA. Down with OPP. He wouldn't go in there if he were you.

Review: Sound of Noise Just Plain Rocks


Six masked figures storm into a Swedish bank and hold its occupants hostage, shouting “This is a gig! Listen, and nobody will get hurt!”

That, in a nutshell, is the appeal of the goofy-brilliant Sound of Noise, in which the mischief makers of the short “Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers” (also by writer/directors Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson) proceed to expand the scope of their everyday-object compositions to include an entire city. Their campaign of musical terrorism is split into four movements – the hospital-set “Doctor, Doctor, Gimme Gas (In My Ass),” the aforementioned back symphony of “Money 4 U Honey,” the philharmonic-crashing “F**k the Music! Kill! Kill!,” and the power-line playing likes of “Electric Love” – with the lone goal of Sanna (Sanna Persson) and her team being that they’ll show the unsuspecting citizens of their noisy town what some real noise sounds like.

These rock renegades have a problem, though: Amadeus Warnebring (Bengt Nilsson), tone-deaf investigator and black sheep in a family full of musical prodigies. Where everyone else sees a bomb threat, he hears the all-too familiar tick-tock of a metronome. It’s his main clue in a case that no one else cares about – Amadeus is never amused by the recurring joke of whether or not he’s arrested any violinists for fiddling – and it’s his first step towards an opposites-attract romance with the sonically anarchic Sanna.

The concept may sound a little thin, but Simonsson and Nilsson try to keep the downtime between impromptu public gigs at a minimum. And what wonderful gigs they are: as the film opens, our anti-heroes are driving recklessly in order to better harness the roar of shifting gears and road bumps to complement the drum kit being played in the back of their van. (Naturally, the drums are then pelted at the pig in pursuit.) When they take over an operating room, they use everything including the unwitting patient in order to make music. These guys and girl are out to drop a conceptual bomb on the city, and they do it with remarkable fervor, wielding air horns like handguns and retaliating against the stuffy formalism of the local philharmonic – an orchestra which Warnebring’s brilliant brother happens to conduct.

The band members themselves aren’t terribly delineated beyond Persson’s steely-eyed leader and Magnus Börjeson and her chief partner-in-crime, but the auditory antics are grounded well by Nilsson’s ever-wary performance. He sells the initial anxiety of the case and his deep-seated longing to one day live up to the expectations of his family name, and his encounters with Sanna’s crew have an unexpected side effect that ultimately proves to be rather rewarding for a man in his uniquely sour position.

He brings a bit of heart to a high-concept, high-energy lark that otherwise minds itself with eccentric performance pieces and gags in which any and all musicians are rounded up as suspects. Sound of Noise is refreshingly mindful of, and playful with, cops-and-robbers convention, and as one might imagine, it has a hell of a soundtrack to boot.

Grade: B+

Categories: Reviews

Tags: Bengt nilsson, Johannes stjarne nilsson, Movie review, Ola simonsson, Sanna persson, Sound of noise

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