Guelph Film Festival Review: 'The Strange Sound of Happiness' Unearths Mouth-Harp Mysteries Directed by Diego Pascal Panarello
Published Nov 12, 2018In this beautifully made docu-drama, one man's dream to become a musician is realized via an unlikely instrument. Director Diego Pascal Panarello narrates and stars in this fantastical film ostensibly about a version of himself — a drifting, broken-hearted man who returns home to Sicily with no focus or prospects in life until he encounters a mouth-harp, which alters him immeasurably.
Recognizing its simplicity but also the power and adaptability of its tones, he sets off on a journey to learn its history and master how to play it so he can become a star. His path leads him to the Yakutia tundra in Siberia, where he befriends the world's greatest mouth-harp player and also a mystical master blacksmith who knows its properties and construction on a profound other level. The experience pays off for Diego, who is celebrated for his craft. Or at least, so it would seem; nothing feels certain in this surreal creation.
Gorgeously shot, with fascinating and challenging cinematography (the underwater swim sequence is literally breathtaking) and full of whimsy and desire, The Strange Sound of Happiness is certainly odd but also rather relatable and heartening.