Touch the Sound

Thomas Riedelsheimer’s portrait of deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie is an absolute masterwork, both of filmmaking and of musicianship. It’s primal and artful and perfectly controlled, without ever losing a sense of play—reason enough to call it a correct treatment of the subject. Helpfully, Glennie is loquacious and amazing to watch, as when she recalls first removing her hearing aid to discover her body’s perceptiveness, or dashes off an infectious groove with chopsticks, an overturned saucer and a crumpled beer can. But Riedelsheimer won’t let her do all the work. Like an ideal rhythm section, he’s fluently supportive, closely reading the full array of life’s cadences—from human fidgeting to industrial manufacturing to sublime stillness—and calibrating his imagery appropriately. Thus, a movie ostensibly about sound becomes tactile and visually enthralling, with an editing scheme so innately musical that its dynamic audacity might even go unnoticed, at least consciously. Rightly and movingly, the film ends with a lingering caress, and silence.