Does silence create more room for the mind to think? This is the question I asked myself upon finishing film festival circuit darling The Sounding. Filmmaker Catherine Eaton (Person of Interest), who wrote, starred in and directed the film, plays Liv, a middle-aged woman who chooses to stop all verbal communication, relying instead on rudimentary sign language.
Liv's grandfather (Harris Yulin, Scarface, Ghostbusters II) has acted as her caretaker, but invites an old friend named Michael (Teddy Sears from The Flash and Masters of Sex) to take over his duties once he learns he'll soon die. But when Liv starts unexpectedly speaking in Shakespearean language, Michael places her in a psychiatric hospital.
The Sounding is ultimately confusing amid frustratingly rushed pacing and narrative choices. We're supposed to fall for the characters even as we're still trying to get to know them. The film is lucky enough to have great actors like Frankie Faison (The Wire), however, and capable directing from Eaton has earned it numerous awards from film festivals across the country. Still, it seems like viewers struggle for breathing room throughout.
We must give the movie props as its ending does aim us toward a deeper truth or "a-ha!" moment; namely, the goodness that comes from pain and death—but by frantically pushing through the material without leaving the space or timeline for its message to hit home, The Sounding misses the mark.
+ Acting; Shakespearean language; that A-ha moment
– Pacing; plot holes; Shakespearean language
Directed by Eaton
With Eaton, Sears, Yulin and Faison
The Screen, NR, 93 min