Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal ★★★½

You don't need to fix anything here.

A cockroach on his neck. A pair of underwear on his shoulder. A word - either "on" or "no," depending which direction it is read - on the back of his hand. A sentence, "Please kill me," across his chest. These are some of the prominent tattoos adorning Ruben's body. For someone who anxiously tries to cover up his distress with a facade of confidence, these external symbols are especially revealing about his internal strife.

His neck tattoo seems to literalize the phrase "bugs under your skin," which would not be an uncommon sensation for a former heroin addict; his jittery, energized movements play like that former self echoing forward. But cockroaches are also attracted to decay and filth, two ideas that seem to orbit around the other tattoos Ruben has chosen as a representation of himself. Even though he feverishly projects a self-care mentality (an early morning routine of veggie smoothies and exercise), the soul underneath has been worn and weathered, like a pair of briefs. His energy is either all-in (turned "on" by a prospect) or violently opposed (as in "hell no!").

Maybe the most telling, though, is that chest tattoo. Where does addiction come from? Escape, avoidance, alteration, the desire for a different headspace, even if only for a short while. Lines like "No, what I need is a fucking gun in my mouth," are the remnants of the old Ruben, one who turned to heroin as a stopgap for suicide, then turned to new addictions (Lou, music, a routine) to replace the old ones. Sometimes a 'fix' is a temporary means of fixing one's self. But what Ruben has to learn is that the chaos of life cannot be fixed, it can only be lived.

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