This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Kevin Films’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
This might be my longest review I've ever written. Not that the bar of writing it is high, but because while I've had movies I absolutely adore, I'm not always hugely vocal about them. Sound of Metal is the first movie where I feel sort of obligated to write something for a movie. You should know one thing before you head into this movie, that it ain't a drummer movie.
As some of you might know, I'm a HOH (Hard of Hearing) person. I actually don't say that sentence often. The only times people really ask after it is when kids ask me what I got in my ear or when I find myself in a situation where explaining it is necessary (in class, etc). Before I go explaining why I don't say that often, that is another side street we'll turn into later.
I got hearing problems when I was two years old. Everyone in kindergarten went to the teacher when she yelled all of us together, but I kept on playing with the toys. After that I then got 2 hearing aids. A few years or 4 go by and I now only have one hearing aid in my right ear. Funny thing is, it is hard to recall I ever could hear from my left side. Since then there's only been a slight decline in my right ear, but nothing too drastic in that way.
There have been moments where hearing loss just absolutely S U C K S. I've never gone to parties (except graduation, but I was far from those loud music boxes), I've never gone to concerts and in the movie they nail it how huge crowds are an absolute despicable place for HOH people. It might be the reason why I'm perhaps not the most social guy when I go outside. The movie depicts this (scarely) very accurate sometimes.
Being HOH does have it advantages sometimes. Joe (played EXCELLENTLY by Paul Raci) gives his peace with being deaf. Ruben (played equally great by Riz Ahmed) encounters, in some dark humour ways, some other advantages. I've even used my HOH a couple of times to get out of test on school. Then there is another problem people around me have all the time, but I've never had a problem with it. (I'll let you guess what it is)
*I'll now dive deeper into the movie, so SPOILER territory warning here*
The movie legit haunted me sometimes. When Ruben starts experiencing some ringing (which I've seldom had) he finds help. Shortly after he is sitting in a booth opposite an audiologist reading words to him. I cannot tell you how many times I've done that test. Would I had a better memory and actually remember all the words of it, I'd ace it every single time.
Ruben is sitting in the booth, the words just fly by him simply 'cause he can't hear them. That moment easily thriumps over about 95% of all jumpscares in horror movies for me. It might just once be a damn possibility I'm gonna be sitting in that same spot and it terrifies me.
The whole movie, Ruben feels vulnerable. I know that exact feeling. Should Ruben accept his fate, or cling on to the hearing world, where perhaps more possibilities are there for him? (Again Spoiler alert) In general Ruben has chosen the 2nd option. So have I.
That said, the fact that the writers and the director showed deafness through a warm loving deaf community is on point. I've been to HOH/deaf kids trips when I was younger. 2 years ago I've gone to a deaf basic school to film a doc short. It's not because people lack one of the five senses, they have lost a complete part of themselves. Deaf people fill that hole, with a lot of efficiency, tremendously well. The only thing I can do is admire them for it and so should you.
This might be an advise not many people might like, but I would suggest watching this movie with HOH subtitles, as I always do. The sound of being in a car, a fly buzzing by, the leaves rustling through the wind. Those are sounds we take often for granted.
Therefore the subtitles combined with the sound design might give you an idea of the average sound HOH people experience. Sounds in this movie are dim, overlap, are distorted, pitches are high or distinct and it's all done beautifully. Me personally don't have distortion that bad as Ruben, but who knows one day?
I once again, and for the last time, want to highlight Riz Ahmed and Paul Raci for their performances. Whenever they're in scenes together I just want to join in and learn from them. I don't like to talk Oscars instantly, but both of them should absolutely be awarded with nominations at the least.
The whole film's crew done an excellent job that have made me absolutely emotional and I want to give them a big thanks for it. You have created something I will without a doubt show many people and rewatch the movie myself over the next couple of years, perhaps decades. I salute you once more.