98 minutes

“Stop and smell the roses”, goes the old-fashioned adage, but Swedish filmmakers Johannes Stjärne Nilsson and Ola Simonsson, good lateral thinkers that they are, change this into “stop and listen to the silence” — even though their debut feature (after a series of shorts with similar musical/rhythmic preoccupations) starts properly with a drummer installed in the back of a van and setting the tempo for a police chase. Sound of Noise is, in fact, a furiously inventive variation on the traditional “cops and robbers” movie; only the “robbers” are a gang of professional musicians co-opting everyday places and objects to create music that relates to the world around us, and the cop, wittingly named Amadeus Warnebring, is the tone-deaf black sheep of a family of classical musicians who desires nothing more than silence.

     What follows is a gently surrealist comedy following the cat-and-mouse chase between the “art terrorists” as they perform their magnum opus “Music for One City and Six Drummers” around Malmö, and the detective whose tone-deafness gives him an edge in the investigation. And the strange, budding romance that blossoms at a distance between the policeman (wonderfully played by Bengt Nilsson) and the leader of the gang (Sanna Persson Halapi), essentially bringing together two people who fail to conform to what society considers to be “normal”, introduces a sly critique of musical and social orthodoxy, while affectionately sending-up the Swedish police procedurals that have become all the rage in literary best-seller lists.

     There is, nevertheless, the feeling that messrs. Stjärne Nilsson and Simonsson don't quite have their cake and eat it too; the conceptualisation at the heart of the plot, derived from the actual found-objects compositions by Magnus Börjeson and his fellow subversives (who are actual musicians playing fictionalised versions of themselves), is more inventive that the writer/directors' essentially functional handling. Sound of Noise's more surrealist touches end up as fleeting moments whose unusual imagery wouldn't be out of place in a Roy Andersson picture but are never taken to their logical conclusions – it's all harmless fun, played for a lark. Still, it's a wonderfully entertaining, crowd-pleasing lark that, in its playfulness, reminds me of another delicious recent musical fugue, Johnnie To's Sparrow.

Starring Bengt Nilsson, Sanna Persson Halapi, Magnus Börjeson, Marcus Haraldson Boij, Johannes Björk, Fredrik Myhr, Anders Vestergård. 
     Directed by Johannes Stjärne Nilsson and Ola Simonsson; produced by Jim Birmant, Guy Péchard, Christophe Audeguis, Olivier Guerpillon; screenplay by Simonsson, mr. Stjärne Nilsson, based on a story by mr. Simonsson, mr. Stjärne Nilsson, mr. Birmant; music by Fred Avril, mr. Börjeson and Six Drummers (ms. Persson Halapi, mr. Haraldson Boij, mr. Björk, mr. Myhr, mr. Vestergård); director of photography (colour, processing by Nordisk Film and Arane-Gulliver, widescreen), Charlotta Tengroth; production designer, Cecilia Sterner; costume designer, Gabriella Dannitz; film editor, Stefan Sundlöf. 
     A Wild Bunch/Nordisk Film presentation of a Bliss/DFM Fiktion production, in co-production with Köstr Film, Wild Bunch, Nordisk Film, Film i Skåne, Film i Våst, Europa Sound Production, Touscoprod; with the participation of Sofica Cinemage 3, Swedish Television, Canal Plus Sverige, Swedish Film Institute, Danish Film Institute, Nordisk Film & TV Fund, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Konstnärsnämden, Ljud & Bild Media, Malmö Opera House, Andykat, Anagram Filmproduktion. (Swedish distributor, Nordisk Film. World sales, Wild Bunch.)
     Screened: Curtas Vila do Conde 2011 Da Curta à Longa sidebar, Teatro Municipal de Vila do Conde, July 10th 2011. 


Popular Posts