The Sound of Silence, co-written by Michael Tyburski and Ben Nabors and directed by Tyburski from their short Palimpsest, is a quirky new dramedy that is hard to describe. Although it does lose a bit of its steam heading into the third act, the film is nonetheless a surprisingly entertaining watch.
The movie follows a professional “house tuner” in New York City who visits client’s homes and “tunes” them to fix problems with mood, as he encounters a woman whose problem he is unable to solve. The first half of the film is extremely intriguing, as you really don’t know where the movie is going to go, though you are interested by the odd concept on display. Once the film settles into a more conventional narrative, it becomes slightly less satisfying, but the beginning is brilliant enough to compensate for the weaknesses in the end.
One of the more prominent issues with the movie is that the ending is too abrupt. With a majority of the film moving along at a wandering but not quite meandering pace, the final twenty or so minutes feel extremely rushed. This rushed final act definitely drags the movie down quite a bit, so the film could have benefitted from being twenty or even thirty minutes longer to allow the audience to explore this world for a bit longer.
The protagonist is an interesting character, although his arc isn’t explored to its full potential. There are some compelling themes introduced in the movie about depression and loneliness, but these never feel fully developed. Had the film spent just a bit more time addressing some of these ideas, the final act likely wouldn’t have felt so hollow.
That said, Peter Sarsgaard gives what is likely the best performance of his career so far in his leading role. He seems perfectly cast as the quiet and quirky guy with an unusual profession, and his performance does an excellent job of driving the movie. The supporting cast includes Rashida Jones and Tony Revolori, both of whom do a good job, but are frequently overshadowed by Sarsgaard.
Of course, the film’s use of sound is highly important and effective. The score is wonderful, among the best of the year, but that is only one part of the highly impressive soundscape. The blend of diegetic and nondiegetic sounds is wonderful and helps absorb you into the idea of house tuning that drives the world of the movie.
The film is also very impressive visually, making it an all-around aesthetically-pleasing treat. The composition of the cinematography is frequently beautiful, some of the shots being so gorgeous that they could be printed out and hung in a gallery. Additionally, the editing helps give the movie a unique visual rhythm to go along with the aural one created by the sound and music.
The Sound of Silence isn’t a perfect movie, but it is very enjoyable and well-made. The first half of this film is unlike anything you have seen before, and while the latter part is more conventional, it is still compelling.
The Sound of Silence hits theaters and VOD on September 13.