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Sound of Insects, The (DVD Review)

10 Jul, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Street 7/19/11
Kino Lorber
$29.95 DVD
Not rated.

Suicide is a subject most people — and Hollywood — avoid for myriad reasons. Ending one’s own life voluntarily is unsettling — a finality that isn’t easily explained or typically commercial (with the possible exception of Leaving Las Vegas and Into the Wild).

In numbing docu-drama The Sound of Insects, Swiss director Peter Liechti has neither Vegas’ star power (Nicolas Cage) nor Wild’s screenplay (by Sean Penn) to help viewers accept a story arc that eschews a happy ending.

Instead, he has the sound of insects, bugs, flies and bees that slowly encroach upon a plastic tent erected in the forest by an unidentified 40-year-old man who is intent on starving himself to death over the course of two months.

Based on actual events culled from a novel by Japanese writer Shimada Masahiko, Liechti incorporates narration of a meticulous diary left by the deceased to recount the man’s daily resolve to reach his endgame.

There is little insight as to why the man wants to die. He doesn’t appear unstable, angry, bitter or sick. He also appears to live in a vacuum, his disappearance into the wild noticed by no one.

Depicting cinematically the gradual decay from the man’s POV increasingly becomes arduous and hallucinatory — the polar opposite of the charismatic video blogs presented by James Franco’s extreme mountain climbing/biking character in 127 Hours.

That’s not to say Insects’ repetitive forest visuals and silhouetted images are without merit, but this film almost works better as an audio log of one man’s determined rejection of life.

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