A heavy-metal drummer’s life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.
“Ruben. As you know, everybody here shares in the belief that being deaf is not a handicap. Not something to fix.”
Growing up one of my next door neighbors was a drummer for a band in town. Every day even at my house we could hear the drums from his basement and I always thought, damn his hearing cannot be good. Sure enough he developed a hearing issue in one ear which does happen to most serious drummers. Darius Marder’s new movie Sound of Metal explores the idea of what happens after that hearing starts to deteriorate. How does a person handle that, and what stages of recovery you have to go through to accept it.
Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed) is our star and he is someone who has been living the rocker lifestyle. Playing with no regard and became a drug addict, taken as he says “everything.” So when his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) tells him he needs to work on his hearing because he is going deaf, he falls into a tailspin. He goes to a church that houses a deaf community while he awaits trying to get implants. However, at the church they try to teach him that being deaf is not something you should let hinder your life, rather something you can use to your advantage.
What makes this story so compelling is how the Director takes you inside of Ruben’s brain. Turning the sound of the movie off so we can understand what Ruben is hearing and increasing our ability to empathize with him. Going deaf is something no one can really imagine or understand until it happens to you and this is probably the best portrayal I have seen on screen of this effect. I am also told that every cut of the movie has subtitles in order to allow the deaf community to feel completely included. When the signing in the movie starts though the subtitles cut out though in order to make the audience feel like someone who’s deaf feels around people who can hear.
Stock Up – Riz Ahmed
Riz has been on the rise for awhile and this is the best performance he has given so far in his career. It was reported he learned how to actually play drums and use sign language for the role. You can really tell because every scene feels so authentic as he disappears into the role. This is a role where he has to carry the whole movie because there are not very many actors in the movie, and he does that with grace and power. He has shown he can play the villain, the hero, and dramatically alter his appearance for a role as well. He has a very bright future.
*A couple other tidbits
- Olivia Cooke was great as well in her role, however she just was not in the movie very much. I love Ready Player One so much, so I am still high on her.
- The drumming was all very visceral and made you understand how this can have an effect on your hearing.
- The best scene in the movie was Ruben drumming with the little boy on the slide.
The best movies are ones that are able to take concepts that people might not be able to understand, and normalize them. Sound of Metal did that and as with everything else in 2020 this is available right now for you on Amazon Prime. I think this is one of the best movies I have seen this year.
*You can find my 2020 Rankings here.
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