← Back to Reviews

Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal -

This deeply affecting drama stars Riz Ahmed as Ruben, a drummer in a heavy metal duo and recovering addict who suddenly loses his hearing. He enrolls in a school for the deaf, but his mind is barely commited to accepting his new reality. Instead, he obsesses over scrounging enough money to buy some expensive cochlear implants and continue his band's tour. Ahmed is utterly convincing as a man who has righted his ship after having endured a long struggle and is not ready for another one. Equally impressive is Paul Raci as Joe, the school's director, a man who is sympathetic to Ruben's plight and who urges him to sit still, contemplate and hopefully learn how to enjoy his new life. You could say the same for director Darius Marder, who encourages us to look around, listen and let the details build the characters and tell the story. The shot of the scars on Ruben's bandmate and girlfriend Lou's (Olivia Cooke) wrist, for instance, told me what I needed to know about her better than words could. Also, Ruben's doctors describe the state of his hearing, but we get to hear how he hears thanks to audio effects that simulate the deaf experience. I have tinnitus and partial hearing loss in one ear, so I can't judge how well the effects represent Ruben's condition, but what they get right about the ringing, tinniness and how muffled everything sounds make them the most accurate recreation of what it's like to be hearing impaired that I can remember. If you are not a fan of heavy metal music, that should not stop you from seeing this movie since it's not really about that. Besides, as much as the movie made me empathize with the hearing impaired, it's ultimately a story about recovery, not to mention one of the best I've seen. There are some who go through the process who are lucky enough to stay with the people they meet and keep the new home, career, etc. that are there for them at the end of the tunnel. However, there are others for whom such bonds and necessities are but preparation for another tunnel.