Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
The bohemian lifestyle of a heavy metal drummer comes crashing down when his ability to hear begins rapidly deteriorating.
"As you know, everybody here shares in the belief that being deaf is not a handicap. Not something to fix. It's pretty important around here. All these kids... all of us, need to be reminded of it every day."
Despite knowing what Sound of Metal was about coming in I expected it to be more of a story where a guy trys to continue drumming as he deals with hearing loss. But instead, we get more of a rehabilitation story where a guy suddenly becomes deaf, and must learn how to function in a world without his hearing. The result is an emotional story about figuring out your way when life throws you a curveball and finding out if your going to fall back into old habits, fight against it, or come to terms with it.
(Quick Hits) ... Spoilers:
- Quip of the review: With the racket their band was making I guess I should have known he was not going to be able to continue drumming
- In addition to the powerful performances from Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, and Paul Raci ... what makes Sound of Metal so special is how we get a better appreciation for what the main character is going through as the sound design lets us experience his loss of hearing. Then the movie does an extraordinary job of contrasting the muffled silence he hears with the loudness of the hearing world around him
- The story is definitely a character piece as we learn more about Ahmed's character Ruben. Like how he likes to wake up early, his persistent stubbornness (which I can certainly relate with by wanting to prove people wrong and find ways to overcome difficult tasks), but he has a way of lying to himself inorder to help him justify his actions
- When Ruben's girlfriend Lou sees him smoking again, she fears he will turn back to his drug addiction. So she takes him to live in a deaf rehabilitation/learning community
- I can just imagine being in Ruben's position, where he is suddenly having to accept the fact that he is being forced to learn sign language despite not wanting to. And he is truly being forced to immerse himself in this new world, since they take away his phone and car keys
- So I guess Ruben is also a tattoo artist?? I wish that aspect had a bit more of an explanation
- There are several moments where he simply must lash out, because he is filled with so much anger over what has suddenly happened to him
- He eventually does adapt and becomes loved in this community, and even bonds with kids in a deaf class and helps them appreciate the joys of music
- But ultimately he is stubborn and sells everything he has to get implants put in to help him hear again. He seems to think this will be an easy fix (despite being told it will not be). But he comes to find out this expensive option is more like having a fuzzy radio in your head, compared to actually having your hearing back
"All these mornings you've been sitting in my study, sitting, have you had any moments of stillness? Because you're right, Ruben. The world does keep moving, and it can be a damn cruel place. But for me, those moments of stillness, that place, that's the kingdom of God."
- Him getting the operation ends up getting him kicked out of the deaf community
- He has the belief that he will be able to buy his RV back with money he is going to get from his girlfriend's father. But when we finally meet the father you can tell this is just a story he has made up for himself, because they don't know each other and get off to a shaky start
- The story had a thoughtful way of letting us experience what is going through Ruben's head at the end, instead of just telling us. For instance, he feels out of place in large group settings because all the noise overwhelms his hearing device, he knows he must leave his girlfriend because he will never be able to make music with her again, and finally how he becomes filled with regret about his decision to get the implants when the sound of a clanging bell at the end cause him to take his hearing aids out. And at that moment he finally appreciates the silence the leader of the rehab community was trying to help him find all along
- But I did think that moment of quiet piece at the end was slightly dragged out
Ultimately Sound of Metal is a very important film to see in order to better understand and empathize with people with hearing loss. But with it being this kind of learning a lesson movie, makes me think that I will likely not be compelled to watch it again.
Thanks for reading!
Happy movie watching ... Cheers!