Sound of Metal

 

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A fascinating study of hearing loss as a musician enters a world of silence. 

 
Sound of Metal

Riz Ahmed

 

Sound of Metal tells the story of Ruben Stone. He is a drummer with a heavy metal band and lives with the band’s singer, Lou, their home being a recreational vehicle, a trailer that drives them from gig to gig. When Ruben suddenly experiences a loss of hearing, a doctor finds that he has only about thirty per cent of his hearing. Eventually he is sent to a community of deaf members, adults and children, run by a deaf reformed alcoholic called Joe. Ruben settles in with them and begins to learn American sign language as well as teaching the kids to play drums. As Lou is away with her own music in Paris, Ruben sells off his equipment in order to afford surgery on his ears. However, life for him is just not that simple.
 
Debut writer-director Darius Marder was inspired by Derek Cianfrance’s unfinished documentary Metalhead on the drummer in the band Jucifer who had ruptured his eardrums. The film remained abandoned but Marder took the basic idea for Sound of Metal. What he has achieved is quite remarkable as he gives the audience the sounds that Ruben can hear or only hear in a distorted fashion. Marder manages to evoke how isolated the deaf can feel when they cannot communicate properly. Sound engineers Philip Bladh and Nicolas Becker have literally fine-tuned the sound elements, making them hideously distorted.
 
Riz Ahmed gives a magnificently selfless performance as Ruben, initially full of disbelief when he cannot hear his own voice, followed by the anger and frustration it brings him. Sympathetic ears are offered by Olivia Cooke as his girlfriend Lou, by Paul Raci as the head of the deaf community, and by Mathieu Amalric as Lou’s French father. It is a real winner of a film that has already secured many awards all over the US.

 

MICHAEL DARVELL

 

Cast: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, Mathieu Amalric, Domenico Toledo, Chelsea Lee, Shaheem Sanchez.

 

Dir Darius Marder, Pro Bill Benz, Kathy Benz and Sacha Ben Harroche, Ex Pro Riz Ahmed, Screenplay Darius Marder and Abraham Marder, from a story by Marder and Derek Cianfrance, Ph Daniel Bouquet, Pro Des Jeremy Woodward, Ed Mikkel E. G. Nielsen, Music Nicholas Becker and Abraham Marder, Costumes Megan Stark Evans, Sound Nicolas Becker.

 

Caviar/Ward Four/Flat 7-Amazon Studios/Vertigo Releasing.
120 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 12 April 2021. Available on Amazon Prime Video. Cert. 15.