Fantasia Fest 2022: Our Review of ‘Topology of Sirens’

Posted in Fantasia 2022, Festival Coverage, Movies by - July 24, 2022
Fantasia Fest 2022: Our Review of ‘Topology of Sirens’

Much like Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria, Topology of Sirens is best described as a transcendental sonic mystery. Ostensibly following a woman’s investigation into a stumbled upon cache of puzzling audio cassette tapes, writer-director Jonathan Davies’s debut intriguingly expands and deviates to ruminate on the myriad effects that soundwaves have on our states of being.

In a quaint California town, amateur musician Cas (Courtney Stephens) moves into her aunt’s old home and promptly finds an old Renaissance-era string instrument called a hurdy-gurdy. Stashed in a small compartment within are the tapes in question, all of which contain a variety of odd recordings from around the neighbourhood. Endeavouring to figure out their origins and meaning, Cas ventures out into a Linklater-esque community full of audiophiles, dead-tech experts, academics, experimental musicians and more, all of whom are eager to share their knowledge.

Davies is a music supervisor by trade and Topology feels like an idea that has long gestated out of his work on other projects. One of those recent projects was Tyler Taormina’s suburban fairytale Ham on Rye, and Davies’s film certainly shares the same seductive illusory quality, particularly as Cas’s investigation pivots toward the explicitly dreamlike in the final act. (Taormina serves as a producer here, and both films feature cinematographer Carson Lund’s exquisite imagery.)

Of course, further comparisons with Memoria are inevitable, especially in Topology’s similar focus on the notion of soundbites as windows to the past. The film likewise allows ample room to bask in the simple pleasures of wandering through unknown spaces, as Cas seeks out the natural spaces where portions of the tapes were recorded. And while it may not ultimately accrue the same momentous power as Weerasethakul’s film, Davies still proves that he’s uniquely attuned to the endlessly fascinating cinematic rhythms of sound and image.

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After his childhood dream of playing for the Mighty Ducks fell through, Mark turned his focus to the glitz and glamour of the movies. He's covered the extensive Toronto film scene for online outlets and is a filmmaker himself, currently putting the final touches on a low-budget (okay, no-budget) short film to be released in the near future. You can also find him behind the counter as product manager of Toronto's venerable film institution, Bay Street Video.
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