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The Sound Of Silence **

There’s plenty of philosophy here regarding sound and how it affects us, but not much happens with the story.

Is it worth $10? No

The creators of “The Sound Of Silence” have a fascinating premise, yet never figure out what to do with it. The 87-minute run time is comprised of plot and character points that mostly go nowhere and mean nothing. It’s a shame, because the conceit is intriguing.

In New York City, soft-spoken Peter (Peter Sarsgaard) works as a “house tuner.” Drawing from his background in music theory, his clients invite him to detect the otherwise unheard sounds that affect the tranquility of their homes. For example, in the opening scene Peter tells a client (Adit Dileep) that his radiator and kitchen appliances are emitting a B-flat noise, which is creating anxiety. Given that New York is “the city that never sleeps” and there is constant noise wherever you go, this niche career is a clever one, and potentially highly profitable.

Peter, however, is interested in science, not money. He even turns down an offer to contribute his research to a company called “Equilibrium,” which promises to create ideal living environments. Peter’s purpose runs deeper: He believes his research has led to the discovery of universal laws that affect people every day without them knowing it (“like gravity,” he says). He wants to share this discovery with sound academia, but his old college professor (Austin Pendleton) insists Peter accept the help of a teacher’s assistant (Tony Revolori) to better organize his findings.  

An anomaly emerges when Peter meets Ellen (Rashida Jones), who’s chronically fatigued. Prior to him entering her home, they have an interesting exchange: He asks if she walks to work, and she answers as if he asked if she likes her job. He then repeats the question, and she responds appropriately. The moment inspires the question of whether her hearing can be trusted. This is terrific for a movie that’s all about the importance of sounds, how they affect us and how we interpret them.

But then…crickets.

The exchange doesn’t amount to much. He diagnoses her home as having the undesirable combination of a refrigerator in G and a toaster in E-flat. The solution is a new toaster. That’s not interesting. Unexplored is the intersection of other factors (life, stress, job, etc.) and how they impact one’s mental state and the sanctity of one’s home. To Peter, it’s a simple solution of a new toaster and you’re good to go. It’s overly simplistic, and fails to address natural questions viewers will be thinking.  

You would think that one storyline would affect another, and that Peter would go through a transition of some kind, but he doesn’t. His failure to find answers to his dilemmas brings the story to a standstill.

This isn’t Sarsgaard’s fault – the character is designed to be reserved and undynamic. Director Michael Tyburski, who co-wrote the screenplay with Ben Nabors, never gets Peter past the findings in his research. As such the movie remains too philosophical, and lacks a grounding in real drama that’s needed to tell the story in an effective way. In other words, “The Sound Of Silence” falls on deaf ears.  

Did you know?
There is no reference to, nor playing of, Simon & Garfunkel’s song “The Sound Of Silence.”

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