To say that I absolutely loved this movie is an epic understatement. But warning – oh how I know that this movie isn’t going to be for everyone. Oh how I know. Thus the poor rating the reviewers are giving it. But I have made a cottage industry here at THiNC. simply by scrounging through the dustbin of reviews and pulling out the most promising movies for our discussion. But man, everything about this movie flipped all my switches. Which, probably means that the counselors that I have in my employ currently aren’t enough. I should probably consider more of them. But I’m really quite OK with this reality. Did I mention I loved this movie? Yeah, I loved this movie.
If you are interested in continuing down the length of this page – do me a small favor and don’t, if you haven’t seen the film yet. If you are interested in watching it, it should be at a nearby cinemaplex. (Is that what the kids are calling it these days?)
The World of the Sound of Silence Movie Explained
Peter Lucian (played by Peter Sarsgaard – who we loved in Night Moves) has a unified theory about the universe and everything. He believes it is all wrapped up in the world of sound. The sound of your microwave, the sound of your refrigerator, all of the sounds that weave a pastiched din of malaise. If you are suffering a psychological depression, it is probably because of the mismatched tones of your bedroom with the “natural” noise tones of your neighborhood. And it is Peter’s goal to publish his lifelong findings in order to help save the world from itself.
What I loved about this movie was the import and heft of Peter’s work that is brought to us. It is so legitimately conveyed that I found myself saying – holy crap, I have to look into that ceiling fan over my bed. That low hum is probably causing a low pressure weather system in my life!! I’m something of an exaggerator, but I’m serious. Deadly. I was sold on the premise of this film – and so much so that I wondered why I had never thought of it myself!
I loved the textures of this film. And part of the reason I was sold on the premise was because of the art direction and the brilliance of the sets. So much so that I have been stalking Tori Lancaster, the Art Director of The Sound of Silence, all over the internet in hopes of convincing her to talk to me about the film. (Yes, that is correct, I am insane. And I use this blog as an excuse to talk to all kinds of people that have no desire talking to such lunatics as myself!) And heck, not only does the art direction point to this theory’s truthfulness, but so also does the movie itself. After all, he’s never not solved a case before. His methods, though weird, are proven. And he will not be bought out, or dissuaded from spreading his aural evangelism throughout the universe at large.
But, despite the iron clad facts of this unified sound theory, we are presented with a slow dissolution of the facts of his theory. We begin to see that the scientific community isn’t actually behind his publication of his work, although they have managed to string him along for years. He is, after all, insistent, and fairly annoying to boot – when you stop and think about it. Worse yet? He isn’t able to solve Ellen’s problems in her apartment (Rashida Jones) which unhinges him completely. Why? Well, because it’s a universal maxim dammit! Or is it? It really speaks to how drawn into movies like this I am, because I assumed this theory to be true. Maybe it’s a low-key sci-fi movie? Maybe it was proposing a realistic slant on music and the connections to our souls? I didn’t know. All I knew was that I thought this unified theory he was postulating was legitimate.
Then came the ridicule. His intentions on publishing his scientific theory are met with laughter from scientific journals. His advisor is constantly pushing back on this ideas, and passive aggressively telling him that he isn’t quite ready. We begin to realize that the walls of his fortified tower of thought for what they are – the ravings of a madman. OK, maybe not a madman, but at the very least an OCD control freak. Which was quite shocking to me. Ah, so we are watching the undoing of a man hellbent on holding it all together with a unified theory intent on keeping the truth at bay. Interesting.
The Final Stretch of The Sound of Silence
When Peter takes Ellen to visit the building he is assisting in designing – they look out over the city and discuss his theory. He waxes eloquent and expects her to fawn in return. I mean, that is the only thing he has left himself open to so far. It’s either fawning obsequiousness or he drops the castle gates. She, though, is on the inside of his walls – it would appear that this would be a first for him. So when Ellen starts dropping her wrecking ball on his toothpicks and tinseled constructions he is a bit unmoored by her criticisms. Her argument follows a very basic, but important, line of logic. The environment doesn’t define me, I choose how I respond to the circumstances around me. It is literally the age old discussion of: nature, or nurture. Or actually, a better parallel would be the argument around free will, or determinism. Has my future been determined for me, or am I free to choose?
Peter prefers to find excuses for his isolation and solitary aloneness in the inviolable laws of the environment around him. He prefers to exert mental control over his environment in the form of a truly grounded bunker that protects himself from the polluting influences all around him. Hahah, he prefers to hide, be alone, and not allow himself to be damaged by the people he could come in contact with otherwise. But Ellen sees this as a cop- out, and she calls him on it. Instead of finding excuses for your depression in the sounds and environment around us, we should take ownership of them and determine our own responses to these experiences. We shouldn’t wall ourselves off from outside experiences in the hopes of avoiding hurt and pain. We should find strength through the confluence of these experiences. And, as she firmly objects, as they look out across the city, it shows us her point. Through conversation, and mutual respect for others, we can encounter the best of what the world has to offer. Not through hiding in our bunkers and regressing into ourselves due to the potential for emotional hurt.
Final Thoughts On The Sounds of Silence
I love finding movies that are so tacitly original. Heck, I love finding movies that are generally unloved by critics and the public at large…and this sort of feels like one of those. I’m not sure exactly why this movie isn’t getting the reviews and the ratings it deserves. Maybe because there is so much going on here as to be confusing? Could it be that it is seen as boringly visceral, and heady to a fault? (That isn’t a thing in my book – just wondering what the viewing audience might think. How does one become too heady? Bah.) I managed to contact Tori this past week, and maybe we’ll be lucky enough to get an interview out there about this movie sometime soon. I really was enamored with this movie. But I look forward to hearing how you guys disagree (incorrectly…cough. hahah.)
If this movie turned your gears, probably the best movie that plays in a similar space to this one would be We’ve Forgotten More Than We Ever Knew. And yes, that first hit of crack is free. From now on? You will have to pay dearly for recommendations that good.
Edited by: CY