Going into Fonotune: An Electric Fairytale it’s fair to say that the deliciously vague trailer and intriguing synopsis built up a certain level of expectation to any discerning cinema-goer. The idea of a long, wonderfully soundtracked pilgrimage to a rock-and-roll gig at the end of the world would spark excitement into the heart of anyone looking for an off-beat visually stunning film to sink their teeth into. Yet, for all it’s luring visual deliciousness and kick-ass soundtrack there is a distinct and obvious lack of narrative content, and that’s what really let’s Fonotune down.

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Photo © Fonotune: An Electric Fairytale 

Don’t be mistaken, it’s visual deliciousness and kick-ass soundtrack very nearly almost make up for the large empty chasm where the story should be. Shot between Tokyo, Berlin and the US, writer-director Fint (Fabian Huebner) weaves together a beautiful, desolate world from the intimidatingly blank modernism of brutalist architecture and the isolating vast nothingness of salt flats and desert. His imagery perfectly captures the growing trend of alienation in the modern world and feels like an artistic nod to the likes of Tarsem Singh and Jim Jarmusch. Even down to the use of obsolete and dying technology in his world of obsolete and dying humanity adds final and delightful touches to his stunning world. Fonotune could easily be made into an exquisite coffee table book of screenshots and not look out of place amongst even the most beautiful Taschen publications.

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Photo © Fonotune: An Electric Fairytale 

The soundtrack features an eclectic mix of thumpy techno and quirky indie rock hits that add a deeper and more intimate layer to the visuals. The FM fuzz as characters on screen flick between stations on their retro antennaed headphones is somewhat nostalgic and keeps you grounded to the ‘now’ that the visuals try so hard to pull you from, forwards, into the ‘future’. This contrast is a perfect storm and sets up a cinematic style that could skyrocket a compelling plot or story into greatness.

But then, it doesn’t. It just doesn’t have anything else to give. You could argue that the aimless ambling characters echo the pointlessness of existence in a world imminently ending. Or you could argue that the almost-grotesque objectification of the female characters and the female form is Fint’s artistic interpretation of the spiralling destructive nature of masculinity in the modern world funnelled through wandering characters on the surface of a dying planet. Or it could just be one big wry wink to viewers all over the world trying to discern their own meaning from art that is intentionally pointless and empty, highlighting the ultimately futile nature of our own journeys in a morally dwindling society where the pop culture is heralded over politics and pollution….. or something like that.

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Photo © Fonotune: An Electric Fairytale 

It’s hard to know exactly what the point is with Fonotune, what message we are expected to discern from two pages worth of dialogue and 74 minutes of silent walking. To say it’s disappointing is an understatement. With such a promising and striking cinematic style there is only a longer distance to fall when the viewer is let down by such a lack of substance in the narrative. Fonotune will divide audiences, some will read enough into it to fill the gaps and other’s won’t be able to muster the energy. Like Analog (Kazushi Watanabe) says in the final act of the film “Well, that was pointless, gotta find something new to do.”

Rating:

Written by Mickey Ralph

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About View of the Arts

We are enthusiasts of the arts, passionate about cinema, theatre, and literature. Maggie is a freelance film producer, production manager and she also works with children. Sanja is a freelance translator, occasional writer and a perpetual dreamer. Film is her first and longest-lasting love. Roxy is an Arts Journalist, who writes for several magazines and websites.

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Film