The Sound of Small Things: Slamdance Review

The Sound of Small Things H 2012
Despite an attention to sensory detail, the quirky dramatic elements don’t add up to a satisfying whole.

The drama examines a fragile newlywed relationship, using a cast of non-actors who rely largely on improvised dialogue.

Taking a minimalist approach to its study of a fragile newlywed relationship, Minnesota-based Peter McLarnan’s first feature, The Sound of Small Things, adheres closely to its title -- with mixed results.

With its stationary camera and naturalistic soundscape, the drama has an admittedly distinct look and sound, but its deliberate focus on the mundane and reliance on repetitive imagery ultimately leads to a viewer disconnect similar to the one experienced by its incommunicative young couple.

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Already showing signs of discord in their recent marriage, the nerdy Sam (Sam Hoolihan) and the enigmatic Cara (Cara Krippner) seem to drift emotionally further apart with the visit of his old buddies, twin brothers Mike (Mike Hoolihan) and Nick (Nick Hoolihan).

While the guys while away their spare time playing painfully dull jams in Sam’s unfinished basement, the wide-eyed Cara, who has lost her hearing under mysterious circumstances, wanders through their home looking bored and unhappy.

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Things take a decidedly oddball turn toward the end, but, despite the welcome change in tone, writer-director McLarnan’s cast of nonactors relying on improvised dialogue are unable to mine any credible, relatable complexity from their one-dimensional characters.

At the end of the day, The Sound of Small Things plays more like an art installation than a living, breathing motion picture.

Venue: Slamdance
Cast: Sam Hoolihan, Cara Krippner, Mike Hoolihan, Nick Hoolihan, Andrea Pittel
Director-screenwriter: Peter McLarnan
Executive producers: Dinah Keefe, Margaret Keefe  
Producer: Peter McLarnan
Director of photography: Brennan Vance
Production designer: Peter McLarnan
Music: Brian Just Band, Switzerlind, Villa
Editor: Peter McLarnan
Not rated, 77 minutes.