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Case Number 24130: Small Claims Court

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Sound of Noise

Magnolia Pictures // 2010 // 102 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // July 13th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge Paul Pritchard doesn't need a doctor to give him gas.

The Charge

"We'll give this city a concert it will never forget!"

The Case

For those of you who thought Sweden was only famous for producing Abba and soccer superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, prepare to be taken by surprise. For while Sound of Noise may not look much on paper, it is one of the most delightful, original, and accomplished films to have come by in some time. Since it's a simple tale, I could easily recount the events of the film verbatim without risk of spoiling the film. For it is not what happens that makes co-directors Ola Simonsson and Joannes Stjarne Nilsson's film such a joy, but rather its execution.

The plot, such as it is, involves a group of anarchists, led by Sanna Persson, who plan a musical masterpiece in which they will use an entire city, and its populace, as their instruments. Hunting them down is police officer Amadeus Warnerbring (Bengt Nilsson), who—having been born tone deaf, despite being born into a family of musical geniuses—hates music in all of its forms. And that's about it. It may not sound much, but the fun lies in the imaginative ways in which the group delivers each of their performances.

Each performance is full of invention and, regardless of your musical tastes, undeniably catchy. The first performance, delightfully titled "Doctor, Doctor, Give Me Gas (In My Ass)" sees the group infiltrate a hospital where a patient in for hemorrhoid surgery serves as their instrument of choice. It sounds bizarre I know, but somehow this oddity works far better than it has any right to. Perhaps part of the reason for this is the story of Officer Warnerbring, which, due to his straightlaced nature, acts as a perfect tool for grounding the madness. Despite the film's humor (which, though abundant, is not of the gut-busting variety), everyone plays things straight, which only makes the supposed threat of musical terrorists more entertaining.

One of the most interesting aspects introduced into the narrative of Sound of Noise is how Warnerbring is unable to hear anything (or, indeed, anyone) who has been "played" by the group. This added sense of mystery further draws the viewer in, to the point that Sound of Noise is both impossible to turn away from, or easily forget.

The cast is note-perfect (if you'll pardon the pun), as they steadfastly refuse to play for obvious laughs and instead allow the smart writing to dictate their performances. Directors Simonsson and Nilsson deliver a film that is extremely pleasing, especially aesthetically speaking. The finale, in which the group utilizes the cities electricity supply as a musical instrument, delivers a suitably beautiful close to this remarkable film.

Magnolia's DVD delivers an impressive audio-visual experience. The standard definition 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is impeccable. Sharp, bursting with color and detail, and in possession of rock-solid black levels, this release ensures Sound of Noise looks the business on DVD. The Dolby 5.1 Swedish language track features clear dialogue, as one would hope, but truly comes to life during the numerous musical performances. This is one DVD that demands to be turned up to eleven, as individual sounds combine to great effect.

In addition to the film, the DVD also includes the short film that started it all, "Music For One Apartment And Six Drummers," which is accompanied by the oddly festive "Music For One X-Mas And Six Drummers." Both are excellent, yet neither offers any real suggestion as to how anyone could expand the idea to fill a 102-minute film. "Drum Battle: Preparing For The Challenge" is possibly the most fun extra, as it documents a falling out between cast and crew which results in a musical showdown. "Soundcard Stockholm" sees the group create a piece of music with each member situated in a different part of the city. "Water Analysis (Part III)" expands on a scene from the film in which Warnerbring views Senna's first act of musical terrorism. In "Making Doctor, Doctor," the directors discuss how the medically themed performance came to be. Finally, we get a slideshow.

If you are looking for a slice of joyful escapism, or simply want to be entertained, then Sound of Noise may just be the film you are looking for. This is surely destined for cult status: Why not get in on it early?

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 92

Perp Profile

Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Swedish)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Comedy
• Concerts and Musicals
• Crime
• Cult
• Foreign
• Romance
• Romantic Comedies
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• Slideshow


• IMDb

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