Title: Sound of Metal

Year: 2019

Genre:  Drama | Music |

Runtime: 120 min

Director: Darius Marder

Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Rici


Keeping at bay his inner demons by devoting himself to art, metal drummer, Ruben, has been living for the moment for the past four years. Then, while on tour with his lead-singer/girlfriend, Lou, Ruben realizes that his hearing is rapidly deteriorating. As this sudden hearing loss turns his world upside down, and numbing fear paired with angry denial take over, Ruben reluctantly accepts to join a small deaf community overseen by Joe, a compassionate Vietnam War veteran. Now, Ruben needs to find some solid ground, understand that being deaf is not a handicap and that deafness isn’t something to fix. But is Ruben willing to accept his new life and learn how to be deaf?

For some reason, Hollywood wants to make a movie about music. Music-based film and has been going on for a while. We’ve had Whiplash, La La Land, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Rocketman, just as an example of how it has evolved during these years. And every time, the Academy Awards has granted these movies, often with the sound design award or something similar. It’s the music that matters.  And in this film, music isn’t the core of the film. Instead, it’s the absence of sound and being deaf. It’s a movie that you can’t sleep through as you’ve to read to understand as they use sign language to communicate with each other.

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In this story particular, we follow a drummer who loses his hearing and struggles to accept it. The lead character is played by Riz Ahmed, who successfully shows the pain and the confusion his character named Ruben has. He acts like a drug addict, the desperation on how to get money to get rid of it, like switching a lamp. He envisions deep with this musician. It’s a little weird to see him in blond hair but maybe it’s for the attitude.

Olivia Cooke plays Lou, who is Rubens’s girlfriend with weird make-up but he can’t play drums for the band, they split up and Ruben gets to join a leader named Joe, for a small deaf community.  She doesn’t have that much screen-time as necessary but maybe it also shows the motivation behind Rubens’s distracted behavior. Ruben has a clear and estranged relationship together with the leader Joe, he doesn’t want to be there and accept his new reality. Joe (Paul Raci) gives a calm and sensible performance and it’s easy to understand why he reacts in the way he reacts when Ruben doesn’t want to be there anymore. Ruben spends a lot of time at the community center.

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The concept is probably not new with muffled dialogue however it enhanced the experience to feel more intimate with the characters. The editing is good as well. It has a good pace overall but, in the middle, it lags a little before it kicks off again. The sound weighs in deep in this film as much as you don’t here, you see and experience within the characters which gives a more enrichment and deeper understanding to the characters, however, story-wise it doesn’t add something new. It’s just a compliment. It’s a fairly straightforward story constructed with a small set of characters. An intimate, small film where is character-based, but nothing exciting happens during the runtime. It’s more of an exploration of a heavy-metal drummer losing his hearing and having to deal with it.

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