The 28th Leeds International Film Festival has recently finished Amongst the films shown – and sadly the only one I was able to see this year – was Sound of Noise, a 2010 Swedish-French film directed by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjarne Nilsson.
The premise of the film is an admirably loopy and inventive one. A group of musical terrorists are roaming the city, staging a series of attack gigs to help save the people from ‘shitty music’. The locations for these strikes include a bank, a power station and, in a moment of black comedy genius, a hospital operating theatre. Reluctantly on their trail is a police officer with a deep seated dread of music in any form who finds that their audio activities have a surprising side effect for him.
Sound of Noise is, as you might get guess from the clip above, a very strange film but also a very funny one. Once you accept the unusual central idea, it’s an entertaining and, at times, quite thought provoking experience. The soundtrack being part of the narrative allows for some memorable images including a man playing the drums in the back of a van during a chase sequence and the use of electricity pylons to create a musical score in an especially risky way.
The film celebrates the way that music can be anywhere and anything but also highlights that one person’s music is another person’s noise. The soundtrack is suitably cool, drawing on both electro, ambient and rock sounds. In the midst of such a quirky narrative, the cast wisely opt for performances which while broad are still engaging. Even the music-phobic police officer emerges as quite sympathetic.
With its musical terrorists fighting authority, Sound of Noise could have been a terribly adolescent film, but the lightness of touch throughout keeps it playful and interesting. The finale has the audience guessing right up until the bittersweet ending.
Sadly Sound of Noise has never been made available on DVD in the UK, but the whole film and various clips can be found on YouTube. If you ever get the chance to see a screening, I would recommend it. Like other cult favourites like The Room or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the is a film that is ideal for watching with an audience laughing along.