Sound of Metal is a drama film directed by Darius Marder and starring Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff and Mathieu Amalric.
Sound of Metal is haunting. Not just because our central character goes from hearing to not hearing in the matter of a day, which is, honestly, horrifying. It’s a look at that, but also how easily people can get addicted without even knowing and what it means to accept who you are in the face of the inevitable.
Sound of Metal follows Ruben, a drummer, who loses his hearing one day. His life with his singer girlfriend Lou turns upside down at this revelation and he must now go on a journey to accept this radical change.
This movie is rough. Ruben’s confusion and desperation at losing his hearing are gut-wrenching and visceral. It doesn’t help that Riz Ahmed is absolutely spectacular at his portrayal. The movie is not only a portrayal of the impacts of deafness, but it also takes a heartfelt look into the deaf community.
Ruben’s life before and after the incident is starkly different. He’s always drowning in noise and music before. However, the sudden jump into the quiet leaves him, understandably, a little shaken. It’s a gut-wrenching journey into finding his true self through this. His time with Joe and the kids teaches him to accept who he is and the situation, and somehow calms the rage that he feels inside.
However, there’s a bigger problem to be addressed here. Ruben’s relationship with Lou is co-dependent and toxic. And although it’s all glitz and glam and feels great at first, the third act proves that their lives are starkly different and they want very different things than what they had previously thought. Thus, when they do break up and Ruben finally takes his hearing aids off, he and the audience realise that this is where he was meant to be. He is at peace and that’s all that matters.
Sound of Metal also takes a heart-warming look at the various experiences of the deaf community. How and what they think, their points of view and how they bypass the obstacles of everyday life is portrayed in a simple but firm way. You feel empowered by it all, but it’s also sad to see how utterly lost Ruben is in all of this – this is not what he wanted at first. His needs are quite different from everyone else and he is shoved into something that he has no control over.
As I said above, Riz Ahmed is absolutely phenomenal as Ruben. He portrays the various moods of his character with such heart and pain that you feel transported to this story and his life. His performance takes us into a place which is so truly Ruben but also beyond him. Sound design is also a great part of Sound of Metal, with us experiencing Ruben’s point of view on and off. It takes us deeper into the story and helps us connect with the character. Additionally, Olivia Cooke is great as well as Lou, who is desperate for her boyfriend but is also sinking at the same time.
Throughout the 2-hour runtime of the film, you sit at the edge of your seat wondering what the next step is for Ruben. It seems quite impossible a task and a futile quest. However, the third act plays out a bit stretched for me. It is also quite dramatic; however, I think the drama goes well with the subject matter and the gravity of the situation. It’s an ending that was meant to be.
Summing up: Sound of Metal
Sound of Metal is a liberating albeit melancholy look at the life of a person who is pushed into extreme circumstances which he has no control over. It’s a movie worth watching for its spectacular performances and keeps you on-edge throughout.
Sound of Metal is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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