In ‘The Sounding’, a young man must take care of a mysterious woman who decides to only communicate through Shakespeare quotes and words after a tragedy.
Directed by: Catherine Eaton.
Starring: Catherine Eaton, Harris Yulin, Frankie Faison, Teddy Sears, Betsy Aidem, Carolyn Baeumler, Matthew W. Belcher, Steve Bertorelli, Mark Boyett, Joel Brady, Danny Burstein, Jim Coniglione, Erin Darke, Lawrence Derx.
Country: United States.
Running time: 93 minutes.
I find it absolutely valid to go deeper than a film’s visible layers if it justifies finding the reason for its existence. It helps to understand what’s the motive behind the relationship between a director and the story he or she wants to tell. Sometimes it’s not necessary as themes are simple, or not very attractive. But when there’s a mystery driving the story, the question is totally acceptable.
The Sounding is not a very good example of reason behind the execution. It’s a film whose story lacks a direct relation with realistic events, but the character driven premise of Catherine Eaton‘s creation regards a unique mystery that can be translated if you can digest its method. The power of The Sounding is never reduced but it’s a hard movie to follow if you don’t fall in love with its tiresome exploration of Shakespeare quotes.
A beautifully shot film, The Sounding tells the story of an encounter between a young man and a woman on an island. Olivia is Lionel’s granddaughter and nobody knows when’s the last time she spoke a word. Lionel wants Michael to take care of her when his health deteriorates. But he also wants him to respect her independence and her strange personality. The two bond in a strange silent way. When Olivia poses a threat to herself, Michael acts and decides she’s not fit to be in the secluded place she has never left. She doesn’t express her feelings or needs. She only uses Shakespeare quotes, and writes the work of the famous writer wherever she can. Nobody knows why she does this. It’s a form of revolution that nobody but Olivia understands, and Michael sets out to discover the truth behind her strange fascination.
Eaton crafts a solid movie that lacks a necessary connection with the viewer who’s not familiar with a message of redemption, acceptance, and tolerance. It’s not a movie that promotes itself as the honest and effective dive into the world of mental health treatment and the empathy it always needs. Olivia’s character is too mysterious, up to the point of a possibly deceiving those who become interested. Michael as a counterpart is not very clear on what his search regards other than fulfilling the wishes of a dear friend. This is when the movie plods a bit, and tirelessly puts the viewer to the test of searching for meaning behind the work of Shakespeare.
Sure, The Sounding deserves admiration because of its unrevealed elements, and the ones that hide in its moral corners. Its final revelatory act serves as a just recognition of freedom and expression in a moment when it’s fairly needed. Eaton tries to tell a story and she delivers her most artistic attempt. Could it have been better? I don’t see how. The Sounding is a movie that exists within its own universe of express treatments, unfair evaluations, and the dark side of mental institutions. Olivia’s story is only interesting when we understand why she does what she does, but there’s not a backstory that can clarify furthermore. I went deeper at some point, and found nothing. Maybe some thoughts are better left unexplored and undiscovered.