‘Sound of Metal’ is striking in the silence

"Sound of Metal" plays with editing to portray sound, silence and cochlear implants to the audience.

This bold new Amazon Studios original film, “Sound of Metal,” explores the struggles of a heavy metal drummer as he copes with suddenly losing his hearing. It’s a film solely about Ruben’s journey of denial, change, and acceptance. 

Ruben, played by Riz Ahmed, and Lou, played by Olivia Cooke, are a young couple who tour the country in an Airstream as a heavy metal band, when Ruben becomes deaf. To help the struggling Ruben, Lou sends him to a community for the deaf. 

In addition, Lou is worried he might relapse into drug use after four years of sobriety. Ruben’s sponsor finds a special deaf community for Ruben to not only come to terms with his new disability, but remain sober while doing so.  

After feeling like a deer caught in headlights, Ruben, with the help of community leader Joe and others, starts to learn sign language and deaf culture. He becomes a vital part of the community, but something is holding him back. Ruben is still on a mission to get cochlear implants and return to his normal nomadic touring life with Lou. 

When he returns after selling everything he owns to pay for the expensive implants, Joe kicks him out of the community. To Joe, deafness isn’t a disability and therefore is something that doesn’t need fixing. 

Ruben finally has his implants turned on after waiting for four weeks, but he is disappointed when his new hearing is altered and almost worse than not hearing anything. He follows Lou to Paris, where she has been staying with her father. He tries to hide his disappointment and still wants to tour, but a hesitant Lou and this new life she is in makes Ruben rethink everything. 

It’s a beautiful film that conveys how being deaf is not being disabled.  The way the sound was edited showed the viewer what deafness is like. Clever artistic moments where the film was silent show what Ruben couldn’t hear. It even demonstrated cochlear implants; it’s a static-like noise that makes one wonder if it’s worth it. The way the film artistically played with a sound helps to identify and understand Ruben. 

Riz Ahmed shines as he goes through what could only be called the five stages of grief. He humanizes the struggle of becoming deaf in a way that moves you to root for him to accept his newfound deafness. Ahmed knew that in moments Ruben had to become unlikable to portray his character’s human struggle, the deeply emotional one of a life he can no longer live but to which he is dying to return. 

“Sound of Metal” is a striking film that highlights that deafness is not a disability, but a part of human nature, along with struggle and denial. This film has been getting Oscar buzz for quite some time, and it definitely would be a film to deserve several awards. “Sound of Metal” is available to stream on Amazon Prime. 

About Author

Jordan Jones was hired as the Culture reporter for the Mesa Legend in January of 2020. She is in her second semester at MCC, and she plans to transfer to ASU and get an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Film Study and Art History. With her degrees and passion for cinema, Jordan intends to become a film archivist.

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