Sound of Noise (2010)

Bengt Nilsson as the beleaguered Amadeus Warnebring

Cruelly-named Amadeus Warnebring is the tone-deaf black sheep of his intensely musical family. A policeman living in the shadow of his pompous composer brother, plagued by jokes such as “caught any violinists fiddling?”, he quietly wishes for a life of sweet silence.

However, quiet does not figure in the plans of anarchic, experimental musicians Sanna and Magnus. Magnus’s opus, Music for One City and Six Drummers, is a four-part piece to be played not on instruments but on the everyday working parts of a city, a madcap project that will see them recruit four more under-appreciated, varyingly eccentric drummers and invade hospitals, banks and building sites to create their unlikely songs before nonplussed audiences. Hot on their heels, Warnebring discovers that he cannot hear any object on which they have played, which helps him track the band but also leads those around him to question his sanity.

The musicians appear as a force of vivid chaos amid a city of sensible Volvos and drab suits. Cinematographer Charlotta Tengroth clearly enjoyed arranging them in their “concerts” – a balaclava-clad “heist” is especially handsome. Humourless faces are used to great comic effect throughout, while the chirpy soundtrack employs everything from Jew’s harp to jazz to complement the troupe’s guerilla campaign.

The film is a feature-length follow-up to the popular 2001 short Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers (a similar premise on a much smaller scale), and manages a well-pitched mockery of affected arts folk of every discipline, from classical music to oddball performance art. A sharp script – “Hadyn – I already have all his CDs. That guy’s brilliant,” – and the pleasant face of Amadeus (Bengt Nilsson), moving from deadpan to hunted incredulity as the musical mania escalates around him, carry the film along. Interestingly, the musician cast play under their own names.

The plot is slight enough, the all-important songs not quite of even quality and the romantic subplot a little flimsy. However, the film has more than enough energy and inventiveness to keep charming through its 102 minutes.

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