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A sextet of anarchist drummers is going to change Sweden, if only a tone-deaf cop would get off their snares.

click to enlarge Metronome of their discontent
  • Metronome of their discontent

There are no nuns and no Nazis. Nope, this Swedish-language film isn’t a spoof of The Sound of Music. But there’s plenty of music spinning around within a movie that smoothly (and loudly) traverses back and forth between comedy, crime story, and political thriller.

Starting life as the multiple-award-winning 2001 short Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers, this feature film sees the writing-directing

team of Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjarne Nilsson reassembling the original cast, then adding a storyline about a high-ranking cop going up against artistic anarchy in contemporary Sweden. They’ve also moved the action from the interior of one apartment to sites all over the city of Malmo.

The cop is Amadeus, the tone-deaf, musichating member of a successful classical family.

The “anarchists” are crazed percussionists and performance artists who believe that their city is “contaminated by shitty music” and that it’s time to strike back via an original composition — Music for One City and Six Drummers — with a concert they are sure no one will ever forget.

Four movements, four locations, “instruments” that range from hospital patient monitors to bulldozers to high-tension wires, a cop trying to trace the possible terrorist owner of a metronome, and a gig that provides as much entertainment as it causes vandalism-related destruction.

That pretty much sums up what you’ll see and hear.

Along the way, there are some grand bits of physical humor, many of them revolving around four of the drummers and their back stories; a game of cat and mouse between the authorities and the anti-authoritarians; plenty of inside jokes just for musicians (that take nothing away from those who aren’t musically inclined); a strange plot turn about a “selective hearing problem”; and some big-time yet subtle trouncing of Franz Joseph Haydn (here’s hoping you’re not a fan of his Symphony No. 94).

The film doesn’t maintain the crazy energy it sets up for itself in the first half, and it gets a little too bogged down in the cop’s story. But we certainly haven’t met any characters like these. Plus, there’s a cool nod to the way music was used in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the script nicely poses the question of whether or not music can change the world.

It’s a great film for drummers, or any kind of serious musician. Then again, even if you’re not, this is mandatory viewing. 

SOUND OF NOISE Rated R Directed by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjarne Nilsson Starring Bengt Nilsson, Sanna Persson, Magnus Börjeson

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