The Sound and the Shadow
A mystery disguised as a lighthearted comedy, “The Sound and the Shadow” is an intriguing little curiosity.
Harold (Joseph E. Murray) is a recluse who stays locked in his house, where he indulges his obsession: listening in on his neighbors, and at the world around him, through recording equipment. He is having financial problems, so he takes in a boarder, Ally (Mary Jane Wiles), a spunky, free-spirited redhead.
When a girl in the neighborhood turns up missing, Harold believes he may have recorded audio of her abduction, or he at least believes he can unravel the mystery by listening in on his neighbors. Ally is only too pleased to help him, hungry for some action and eager for some excitement.
The two have several suspects, most directly a homeless man who frequents the area and a shady-looking neighbor who skulks around suspiciously. Ally is eager to leap into action, ignoring the danger, while Harold is predictably neurotic, curious but afraid of being caught, specifically when a police officer comes around asking him questions.
“Shadow” is oddly paced, but it adds an interesting layer to the film. Ally and Harold often have almost comedic interactions, and Ally many times seems like she’s in a different movie than anyone else. She has no attachments to the missing girl and sometimes treats her “investigation” like a game. This is odd early on, but offers Ally some chance for growth as a character when the stakes rise and she is put into danger.
The tone suffers as a result, and the seriousness of the girl’s disappearance is sometimes lost in Wiles’ efforts to play the bold pixie girl to Murray’s stuffy shut-in. The movie could do with a little weight and less banter and interplay.
It’s well-shot, employing surprisingly colorful visuals that look good but still offer the feel of an indie.
The movie does a good job of making everyone a suspect, though the final payoff is a little less satisfying than it could have been. Still, “The Sound and the Shadow” is a fun trifle, a movie with a winning personality and plenty to like.