My friend Tom wanted to watch this a second time, after seeing it at the Edinburgh Film Festival. He always recommends offbeat movies I end up liking a lot.
So off we went to Hackney Picturehouse. Despite the film’s terrible title, which put me off by being like a pop band name gone wrong, it’s an intriguing and visually startling love poem to sound effects and low budget Italian horror movies.
Toby Jones is a Brit sound engineer with a neat line in making vegetables sound like something else as they are chopped up and smashed and he goes to Italy to work on films. He’s surprised by the difficulty in getting his expenses repaid and by the witches, tunnels and torture noises he is meant to invent and enhance.
The Italian actors are, quite literally, a scream.
The early part of “Berberian” is in Italian, and listening to that language always makes me hungry, so I was glad to have had a big meal before the screening.
There is a lot of fun insider stuff about the business of making movies and thought-provoking questions are posed about the nature of human sanity and madness.
Toby Jones owns this picture. He has that rare knack of looking both unassuming and compelling, often in the same scene.
After seeing Peter Strickland’s 2009 “Katalin Varga”, I feared for his sanity. “Berberian”, which he writes and directs, makes me glad he has such extraordinary and different ideas, even though they are unsettling.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, which can be interpreted on lots of levels, but this is truly worth seeing if your tastes tend to art house and to the frankly kooky. You may be puzzled by it, but you won’t regret seeing it.