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TIFF Review: ‘Out of Sync’ is a Fascinating Exploration of the Link Between Perception and Reality

September 23, 2021Ben MK

The ability to perceive one's environment is critical — not only to our individual survival, but to how we define our reality. After all, the way a color-blind person views the world won't be the same as that of a person with perfect sight, as will the viewpoint of a person with an olfactory disability differ from someone whose sense of smell functions perfectly. But what if there was a disconnect between the things we experienced and the sounds we heard? In Out of Sync, that's exactly the situation that befalls one woman, as she struggles to make sense of a world that feels increasingly strange.

A sound engineer who spends most of her time in a studio creating sound effects for film and television, C (Marta Nieto) relies on having pitch-perfect hearing in order to do her job. However, when she begins to experience a delay in her hearing, it marks the beginning of an ordeal that will see her questioning her own sanity. At first, the difference is inconsequential, equating to mere fractions of a second. But as time goes on and the gap between what she hears and what she sees continues to widen, C begins to wonder if there might be something more mysterious to her condition than what medical experts can diagnose. Could the clues lie in the the speech therapy sessions she underwent as a child? And what if she wasn't losing her hearing, but rather gaining a new extrasensory ability — one that will allow her to experience time and space in completely new and unique way?

As director Juanjo Giménez shows, the answer may not be quite so clear-cut. Yet, it's precisely this sense of ambiguity that makes Out of Sync so intriguing. Suffice to say, while it may be tempting to compare this to a film like Sound of Metal, this isn't a story about someone learning to live with a disability. Quite the opposite — this is about what happens when we open ourselves up to new ways of perceiving the world around us. For it's only by doing so that we discover new opportunities to find the extraordinary in the everyday.

Out of Sync screens under the Contemporary World Cinema programme at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 44 min.

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