Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: The Sound of Silence

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Copyright: IFC Films

For many, there’s an assumed beauty in the silence that comes from isolation. I know there is for me, I can’t think of anything better than sitting idly in my own company, thoughts churning away, contemplating this and that. It’s oddly calming, and I think The Sound of Silence agrees with me. An independent film starring Peter Sarsgaard as Peter Lucian, a house tuner that believes there is a direct link between our moods and the silent sounds of our homes. Making minimal noise with audiences, the film has shirked around the edges of obscurity, but my immediate interest in the film comes from such a strangely interesting premise.

We dive into a world of regular people within The Sound of Silence. They’re very much deeply rooted in that typical middle class suburban American sub-genre, a period of classism that feels so overly utilised by independent films as if it were a safety blanket for inane yet light feature films. Director Michael Tyburski seeks this out intentionally though, finding comfort in the mundane lives of a select few as they approach the subject of fine tuning their houses to resolve their unfulfilled lives.

Sarsgaard storms through just about every scene he appears in, his melancholic approach to the performance adding a strangely relaxing tone to the movie on the whole. Lucian is a unique character, one that should be revered or feared in most instances, but the engrossingly calming mannerisms of the performance make it hard to detest anything he does. He’s a protagonist that feels extremely easy to latch onto, with a dedication to a craft that nobody can make heads or tails of. Tremendous work seeps from every scene, each movement and piece of dialogue attributed to Lucian feels incredibly important.

Comparatively, he sticks out like a sore thumb when marching through scenes alongside the rest of the cast. His silence and authoritative manner collides well with Rashida Jones and Tony Revolori, who provide relatively plucky but equally as disengaging performances. A film where the disconnect between performer and interchange feels right at home, The Sound of Silence has a fascination with perverse mannerisms. Awkward interactions between characters are played off as nothing out of the ordinary, peculiar scenarios are nothing out of the norm and what detectable chemistry there is between the cast is played out as a temporary idea, rather than a permanent selling point.

It all comes together rather well in a film that looks and sounds great. You’ll be as relieved as I to find out that there is no reference or single note of Simon and Garfunkel’s song of the same name. The evasive nature of The Sound of Silence comes at a time of embellishment and oversaturation within music. In fact, I don’t quite recall any music being used throughout the film at all. Most of the silent moments of the film feel justified, relaxing and diegetic enough to correspond with the merits of the direction. Tyburski’s direction is never mind blowing or spectacular, but it’s solid enough to hold out against hungry competitors.

The Sound of Silence took a trip around the festival circuits and landed deep into lukewarm praise, but the tone and style of the characters on display is more than enough to craft an interesting enough film, one that puts its leading actor on full display. A peculiar lead performance from Sarsgaard and some strong direction makes for an ultimately relaxing film about a man attempting to prove his theory on the relationship of mood and silence.