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Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal, 2019

Going off of word of mouth on here I decided to check this one out. I thought it was pretty fantastic.

Ruben (Riz Ahmed) is a drummer in a metal band with his girlfriend, Lou (Olivia Cooke). Suddenly, Ruben's hearing begins to sharply decline, and he discovers that he only has about 25% hearing in both ears. Ruben ends up in a community of other people with partial or entire hearing loss. Facing a world without music and unsure of how he fits into his own future, Ruben must navigate his own emotions and try to make a life for himself.

The thing that I found most compelling about this film was the way that it portrayed the despair of being trapped between two worlds. It's not just Ruben's hearing loss: he is a recovering addict (and Lou also has struggled with self-harm), he must decide whether or not to try to use cochlear implants to try and "fix" his hearing loss, he repeatedly finds himself in situations where he is not "fluent"--unable to understand ASL, and later not speaking French. This sense of not 100% belonging anywhere helps us to understand Ruben's sense of alienation and frustration. As a viewer there are times that we do not understand what is being signed or (in my case) what is being said in another language. The film puts us in Ruben's shoes so beautifully, it allows us to draw general meaning from a very specific circumstance.

Ahmed's lead performance is incredibly strong. His anger, disorientation, and sorrow are all mixed together in his words, facial expressions, and gestures/signing. He is well matched by Cooke and Paul Raci as the leader of the retreat where Ruben spends several months. I found that all of the characters--even those in small supporting roles--felt incredibly lived-in.

There's a larger message that I took from this film about things in our lives that we can and cannot control, and how to cultivate a kind of "productive acceptance" to our own circumstances. I thought the whole thing was really beautiful and empathetic.

I would highly, highly recommend this one.