After going deaf at a young age, ten-year-old Alexis recovers her hearing as she bashes in her father’s skull in self-defense. As the brutal action takes place, she experiences synaesthesia – the ability to see sounds.
Fast-forward to adulthood, and Alexis is teaching music at a local college while experimenting with rhythm-and-sampling compositions. Unbeknown to all, the gruesome sounds in her music are not those of slaughtered animals but rather of humans. To be able to keep her synaesthesia highs, she not only has to relive the violence she experienced while killing her father, she also has to amplify it. And as an age-induced deafness relapse is impending, Alexis needs to quickly complete her masterwork.
Sound of Violence’s combination of creativity and addiction – not to mention colors and violence – draws many parallels to Joe Begos’s Bliss. If you find one fascinating, you will likely enjoy the other. Sound of Violence very much lives up to its name and is unapologetically graphic at times. As Alexis records the sounds of her victims, she goes to extreme lengths to make their noises as loud as possible. Creative measures have to be taken, and there are times when the movie takes Saw-like turns. This actually is one of the Sound of Violence’s weaknesses. Not so much Alexis’s contraptions, but rather the investigation into the murders. Tessa Munro does what she can with the material, but her role as a detective feels shoehorned in. It causes disharmonies in the otherwise rhythmic story-flow.
Blemish aside, Sound of Violence has a whole lot going for it as far as being a character study. Alexis’s actions may be beyond extreme, but they are also somewhat understandable. Having your hearing and synaesthesia hit just as you kill someone as a child would mess with the best of us. There are limits to what the mind can take, and when loss of hearing once again looms, desperation sets in. Props to both Jasmin Savoy Brown for her portrayal of Alexis, as well as Lili Simmons as Alexis’s unaware best friend, Lili. Sound of Violence’s cast is right on point.
The movie is a feast for the senses, too. Color-intensity corresponds to the synaesthesia-level Alexis is experiencing, and Alexander Burke (there are a lot of Alexes in this production), Omar El-Deeb, and Jaakko Manninen’s soundtrack follows each scene pitch perfectly. Police investigation aside, the movie flows like its soundtrack.
When Alexis inevitably finishes her composition, there is a lot to be said about the ending. Most of it should be experienced without any spoilers, but for the record: I really like her piece. Just as much as I like the movie, which is quite a bit. Sound of Violence might be too in your face for some, but beneath the extreme visuals, you’ll find a nuanced story.
Originally, the movie was known as Conductor, a whole lot better title in my mind. I can only assume the producers wanted to cash in on Sound of Metal’s success.
Letterboxd summary: A young girl recovers her hearing and gains synesthetic abilities during the brutal murder of her family. Finding solace in the sounds of bodily harm, as an adult, she pursues a career in music composing her masterpiece through gruesome murders.
Ratings from around the web
|One Star Classics||5/6|