Sound It Out (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner04/11/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 75 mins

Affectionate, heartwarming and frequently funny documentary with engaging real-life characters, a strong sense of time and place and some thoughtful observations on a particularly male obsession.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jeanie Finlay, Sound It Out is a documentary portrait of Sound It Out, the last surviving independent record shop in Stockton-on-Tees in Teeside, North East England. The shop is run by Tom Butchart and his longtime employees David and Kelly Laybourne, and Finlay's camera stays largely inside the shop, interviewing staff and various customers, some of whom she follows home to allow them to expand upon their vinyl collections.

The Good
Finlay's laid-back, observational approach pays huge dividends, spending enough time in the store to capture all the different details (the hand-written notes attached to the record sleeves, the sign warning off “Thieving Scumbags”) and giving a feel of the day-to-day running of the place (the bag system for regular customers, the ebb-and-flow of regulars and drop-ins). Tom and David make an extremely likeable pair and their gentle bickering is both amusing and familiar.

However, it's the hardcore vinyl junkies that really make the film, particularly the Status Quo obsessive who plans to be buried both with and actually inside his collection (he talks of melting the vinyl into a coffin) and an engaging pair of metal-heads, one of whom talks about painstakingly stitching “PissChrist” (an obscure New Zealand thrash metal band) into his “Battle Jacket” and earnestly claims that PissChrist's music saved his life. There's also an auditor with an obsessively maintained collection who has seemingly never really thought about his obsession before, apparently realising on camera that “I think I do like organising ...”

The Great
As Tom observes, “Men like to collect. Men like music. Men like collecting music,” and the film certainly supports the idea that record collecting is a particularly male obsession. What's more interesting is Tom's position as the human conduit for his customer's various compulsions – at one point David acutely observes that “He's like a feeder ... he's their dealer.”

In addition, the film also unearths some terrific musical gems for the soundtrack, most notably a lovely version of Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Worth seeing?
Engagingly directed and featuring a terrific soundtrack, Sound it Out is a heartwarming and frequently funny documentary that's well worth seeking out. Recommended.

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Sound It Out (12A)
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Content updated: 19/09/2018 15:21

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