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Sound Barrier
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by Jason Whyte

"A kind of festival film that's...skull-crushing."
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. There is nothing wrong with the slowing down of storytelling sometimes, just as long as there is a reason for it to exist, rather than having a filmmaker masturbate his ideas across the screen to make it for himself and only him. When “Sound Barrier” screened at this year’s Vancouver Film Festival, the film’s endless images and repetitive takes took its toll on the audience, many of whom walked out of the screening room shaking their heads. Myself, I was laughing.

This film doesn’t merely redefine the word slow. This film passes all aspects of slow and turns it into its own art form, and none of it makes a connection with the viewer. This is a brutal and wrong-headed film about a deaf boy who tries to find a recording about what happens to his mother and winds up going through a complete breakdown as a result.

And it isn’t just the boy who goes mental. Where this film dragged this viewer into insanity was the beginning of the young boy searching through a vault of boxes to find the identifying tape. Now normally I could see the pain and anguish of going through boxes and boxes to find something (you remember when you couldn’t find that toy growing up, or when you couldn’t find your headphones in your bedroom and you went mad as a result?) but “Sound Barrier” pushes a simple few moments of searching for tapes…

…Into forty-five minutes of searching. Forty-five minutes of searching.

Yes, we see box after box after box of tapes getting thrown around, looked at, thrown into a corner and then the process is repeated, again and again, until the point where to can’t take it…and then there’s another thirty minutes of going through boxes. I also must mention the following scenes, where trucks come heavily (and redundantly) into play as the boy discovers the tape and proceeds to get an old man to speak out a tape so he can lip read it.

Of course, I understand that the director wants to torture the viewer, to make us feel exactly what the lead character is thinking. It’s your typical thesis of experimental filmmaking. People who know me or have read my reviews know that I love the works of Andrei Tarkovsky and Bela Tarr, and those two artists are famously known for their slow imagery, although deep down there is visceral beauty beneath those images, and they allow us to ponder the existence of those images. In this film, there is nothing done to make us feel emotion for the boy, and his journey to find the answer to his problems is not enough; it’s just too slight for an experimental feature film.

The film’s director is Amir Naderi, who has made a series of experimental films over the years and has said that this is a departure from the path “Sound Barrier” destroys our senses on. To say that there’s a lack of narrative or cohesion of the film is too slight for how little the director has respect for his audience. Keep in mind that he is making this film for himself and not for people in the cinema.

The film’s thesis is somewhat intriguing; that a deaf mute boy tries to find old audio tapes, of which he can’t hear, to help discover his past. That I understand and I can appreciate. The problem is that at 102 minutes, we are shown something at a painstaking level that could have been easily shown to us in about 20 minutes or so rather than the muddling disaster that we have here. I think that the day where film schools start teaching a course on “Less is More” filmmaking, they would use this one as an example of what goes wrong.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12036&reviewer=350
originally posted: 10/11/05 13:26:44
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2005 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/03/13 hooshimine good 4 stars
10/26/06 Brendan McKenna Was impressed with the cinematogrpahy, editing, and brutal irony of the story. Superb. 4 stars
11/27/05 Stephanie I think the little boy and girl that speaks in polish are both great .They should be actors 5 stars
11/21/05 Adriana Bodoira Angosciante, disturbante ma illuminante: essere sordi č terribile; sentire č forse peggio ; 5 stars
11/16/05 kevin kindersley great art house film, master work 5 stars
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Directed by
  Amir Naderi

Written by
  Amir Naderi

  Charlie Wilson
  Frank Glacken

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