Bengt Nilsson is a tone-deaf cop who comes from a family of musical geniuses. Sanna Persson is an avant-garde artist who’s been terrorizing the city with her lawbreaking pieces of musical street theater. While Persson and her collaborators move forward on their magnum opus, “Music For One City And Six Drummers,” Nilsson is still haunted by their previous crime, which saw Persson speeding through the streets in a van, using the vehicle as an instrument, with her partner Magnus Börjeson playing drums in the back. As they fled the scene, the pair left behind a metronome, which is a device Nilsson saw a lot in his childhood, and which now calls to him, for reasons he can’t fully explain.
Sound Of Noise is similarly difficult to pigeonhole: part quirky comedy, part existential mystery, part flash-mob musical. It’s mainly about two misfits and their tumultuous relationships with different kinds of establishment. Nilsson is a freak to his brother, but while his colleagues on the force accept him as a master at solving cases, they also think he’s a little crazy, and don’t really understand his obsession with Persson or with music (which he claims to hate). As for Persson, she was drummed out of the academy—so to speak—because of her preference for unconventional instruments, but while she’s found musicians who share her interests, they seem to be more into the thrill of defying authority than the beauty of what they create. It’s fairly obvious from the first 20 minutes of Sound Of Noise that Nilsson and Persson are going to find each other eventually, but whether they’ll recognize each other as kindred spirits remains an open question all the way up to the end.
Sound Of Noise works well just as an offbeat cops-and-robbers picture. Early on, Persson and her crew post a program to their concert, and Nilsson tries to piece together the clues, Batman-style, to prevent these costumed villains from staging their next crazy caper. Co-directors Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson then parcel out those capers throughout the film, staging astonishingly choreographed performances using hospital equipment, construction vehicles, power-lines, and more. But what binds the entertaining crime movie to its YouTube-ready musical interludes is the unspoken yearning of its two leads: he for the world of silence in which he’d rather live, and she for all the sounds that slip by every second, uncontrolled and unappreciated.