Sound of Noise -- Film Review



CANNES -- The basic premise of this delightful comedy from Sweden is one of the most imaginative you'll ever see. It's all based on music -- raw, elemental and percussive -- out of which genuine laughs are wrung from beginning to end. "Sound of Noise" is a small film, of course, with little in the way of star power or expensive sets, but the right niche distributor might coax some modest profits from it. It doesn't hurt that it's got an understated but cute rom-com aspect to it as well.
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Veteran police officer Amadeus Warnebring comes from a talented and famous musical family, but alas he hates all forms of music and has been tone-deaf since birth. One day he's sent to investigate a crashed minivan which is ticking, and thus presumed to contain a bomb, rendering his fellow officers helpless. Warnebring fearlessly approaches the vehicle because he recognizes the source of the ticking, an accursed sound from his unhappy childhood: it's a metronome.

The metronome and the minivan belong to a couple of hippie, comically anti-bourgeois musicians, Sanna and Magnus. They are obsessed with all forms of music, the less conventional the better. Sanna resurrects a long-forgotten musical composition by Magnus called "Music for One City and Six Drummers" and convinces him that now is the time to think big. They enlist four other drummers and begin to put together their performative magnum opus.

The four movements of the ersatz symphony are "Doctor, Doctor, Gimme Gas (in My Ass)," "Money 4 U Honey," "F*ck the Music, Kill, Kill," and "Electric Love." Each of the movements involves the Gang of Six taking some familiar aspect of urban life, revolutionizing it by making it completely unrecognizable, then improvising a powerful percussive beat with the basic materials they find at hand.

In the first movement, they cover their faces with hospital masks, take over an operating room, and "play" on oxygen tanks, scalpels, the various body parts of a fat blowhard of a patient, and whatever else they can find. In the second, they rob a bank, but end up only shredding the money they "steal," because they like the sound the shredder makes. And so on.

Officer Warnebring uses his musical background to combat this group that is hilariously terrorizing the city, and in the process falls in love with ringleader Sanna. The climactic moment comes when the entire city is turned into a vast musical instrument via its electrical grid, and Warnebring's famous conductor brother is induced to play a John Cage-like soundless symphony.

All of these sketches are brilliantly conceptualized and faultlessly executed. The editing and sound mix are snappy, and delightful animations perk up the film visually. "Sound of Noise" may be small in scope, but, in terms of imagination, it's huge.

Venue: Festival de Cannes -- Critics Week
The Bottom Line: Funny and exceptionally imaginative comedy from Sweden.
Production Companies: Bliss, DFM Fiktion
Cast: Bengt Nilsson, Sanna Persson Halapi, Magnus Borjeson, Anders Vestergard, Fredrik Myhr, Marcus Haraldson Boij, Johannes Bjork
Directors: Johannes Stjarne Nilsson, Ola Simonsson
Screenwriter: Johannes Stjarne Nilsson, Ola Simonsson, Jim Birmant
Producers: Jim Birman, Guy Pechard, Christophe Audeguis, Olivier Guerpillon
Director of photography: Charlotta Tengroth
Production designer: Cecilia Sterner
Music: Magnus Borjeson & Six Drummers, Fred Avril
Costume designer: Gabriella Dinnetz
Editor: Stefan Sundlof, Andreas Jonsson Hay
Sales: Wild Bunch
No rating, 102 minutes