Imagine "The Conversation" – and the closed-figure sound filter in a troubled world – as a Platonic romance rather than a paranoid thriller, and you have an idea of how Michael Tyburski's feature film debut "The Sound of Silence" plays. It explores the debilitating obsession an urban loner confronted with human complexity.
Cool yet compassionate, anchored both by a characteristic, deep portrait of repulsive intelligence by Peter Sarsgaard, and a poignant twist by Rashida Jones, it's a touchy curiosity that will not necessarily replace any of your favorite New York movies, but it's me Remind them why we often respond to an unlikely mating of intelligence, sadness and hope.
Sarsgaard's Character Peter Lucian, bearded and calmly arrogant in the manner of a professor, is a self-described "house tuner," a sound expert who responds to New Yorkers' call to find a cure in Peter's method. It assesses the mix of ambient sounds of a living space-whether it's electrical appliances, design flaws, or external atmospheric factors-to determine which external solution produces the sound that subliminally changes a person's mood. (In the opening scene, he tells a customer that his fear is due to a mismatched touch of the radiator.)
Peter is a specialized eccentric who lives in a converted Fallout Shelter, which he has made into a noiseless, analogue man-cave of recorders (shadow of surveillance king Harry Caul's work caged in "The Conversation") -Omouth Tuner gigs – exactly he even saw New York's "Talk of the Town" theme – but he sees true liberation in what has been bothering him for years: a mapping of New York's sonic make-up, which in his opinion makes it an undiscovered universal one Law that describes in detail how sounds affect human emotions.
If he does not acoustically judge his clients' homes or convinces his academic professor (Austin Pendleton) of the academic value of his project, he is in the middle of the city with tuning forks, listening to hidden tonal patterns that explain all of the liveliness of Times Square's lyrics Central Park.
What sets this cautious, methodical man off his game is disorder. It threatens academic rejection – which spurs him on to hire an assistant (Tony Revolori, "Spider-Man: Far From Home") – but also the case of charity worker Ellen (Jones), whose new, Peter-approved toaster is not by he is from. t to solve their insomnia or anxiety. Ellen is as invested in repairing her loneliness as she is in proof that his sound theories do just that, but while she embarks on her version of a solution (namely being social with this curious figure), he tends to wrap himself up in a shell to retire bitter loneliness when other things do not look or hear as he does.
Tyburski and his co-writer Ben Nabors have expanded his short film "Palimpsest" in Peter and created a memorable, headstrong protagonist. Sarsgaard finds an almost sensual serenity in the everyday seriousness of his certainty, even though the film gently combines both aspects of thoughtful quality and a dead joke. Peter is sometimes a slightly romantic figure; If his guard goes away a bit and the joy goes into his unobtrusive performance while he talks about there being a master harmony that determines our behavior, you want to believe him. (As for the movie's tonal qualities, the solid score of Will Bates and the beautifully layered sound design of Grant Elder and Ian Gaffney-Rosenfeld help make the world manifest as Peter really and psychologically experiences it.)
Tyburski and Nabors also do an excellent job of providing Peter with interactions that will put us on his side, such as when he meets with a technology entrepreneur (Bruce Altman) to help Peter sell personalized atmospheres as the latest home improvement work Trend. It is a truly tricky contrast between a non-apologetic opportunist and a science-minded purist, and the exchange fills Peter with barely concealed disgust at the idea that his valuable research results have been brought together for corporate profit.
However, it is in the slow-simmering relationship with Ellen that the movie finds its slightest buzz. Sarsgaard and Jones show the kind of chemistry that does not come from an obvious spark-whether they feel friends or lovers is almost a mystery of their own-but a sort of unspoken vulnerability and presence of mind. Whether talking politely, arguing politely, or enjoying a silence together – as in the poetic last moments of a city-wide blackout (artfully portrayed by cinematographer Eric Lin, who works consistently fine-grained) – they really are the best sounds in any room for harmonic convergence, when the world makes joining more difficult than ever.
It might have served the film better if Peter's and Ellen's separate worries (whatever caused his armor and loneliness) had been explained. But the actors make deliberate opacity seem like a ubiquitous emotional force, and it is this human attention that gives Tyrburski's carefully crafted ode to the continued appeal of quixotic seekers with their wonderfully small grace.