Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal ★★★½

We don't get to hear the phrase "When you get there, I need you to write to me, okay?" anymore. Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed), a drummer who just lost his hearing takes a momentary pause before saying this to his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) who is about to leave for a tour. Executive-produced by Riz Ahmed and directed by Darius Marder, the film focuses on Ruben's rehabilitation avoiding any possible melodrama. It scores well on subtlety, the innate quality is so real—the scenes at the rehab center with real deaf actors are raw and natural. You hear what Ruben hears, with the word "sound" in its title, it lives up to the expectations you may have with sound editing.

Opens with a scene establishing a couple living in an RV. They are a part of the same band—their makeup and attire are on point. Cooke's blonde-dyed eyebrows were a distraction but that couldn't mask her beauty. The story focuses little on the relationship and a few minutes later we know Ruben is losing his hearing ability at godspeed. Lou exits the frame leaving Ruben at the rehab where he learns to live with the deaf community. The story converges back to where Ruben goes back to Lou. Either a case of choppy editing or maybe it's a script choice, it's a half-baked story. I didn't care much about the relationship. I wish Cooke had more to perform, a few more scenes of the couple could've added more to the story.

Riz's dedication and preparation for the role translate on screen, whether he is on drums or communicating in sign language with the deaf kids, he does it with great elan which fetched him an academy award nomination. Whatever few minutes Cooke had, she makes it count. Paul Raci as the head of the rehab did a splendid job. The movie gets a lot of things right—portrays the deaf community well, their routine, and the use of sign language. It's hard to tolerate a little background noise when talking on the phone, Ruben settles for static noise for life over staying deaf for life—an obvious choice he makes for a shot at gaining his hearing back gets him ousted from the support group, a script choice again, a punishment Ruben doesn't deserve. The camera work, production design, sound editing, and acting are the strong points. The story does a great deal to boost Riz's career, but it could've been better. The time at the rehab is integral to the story somehow I didn't feel the writing made good use of it. It left me slightly disappointed.

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