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Film Review: “Sound of Metal” (2019)


Rating: 4 out of 5.

We never understand the true value of our unique ability to see, hear, and smell the scent of life. And we can’t even imagine what one goes through when the ability to hear suddenly begins to disappear.

Reuben (Riz Ahmed) is a drummer who travels across the state along with singer and girlfriend, Lou (Olivia Cooke). His whole life is based on sound. However, an unfortunate event occurs which results in him slowly losing his ability to hear. In complete disbelief and denial, the man rejects the idea that he may never hear sounds again. An opportunity comes from his sponsor who suggests him to meet Joe, the leader of a deaf community, who has his own approach to helping Ruben adapt to the new reality. But will he accept that opportunity or find a way to restore the sound of metal in his ears is a fascinating journey co-writer/director Darius Murder offers you to embark on.


Riz Ahmed, who spent six months to master his drumming skills and American Sign Language, perfectly captures Ruben’s fear, confusion and anger, as he deals with a problem he cannot solve while being in denial. Through an exceptional aura created by the director, the film recreates what one may go through while losing their hearing ability as well as the struggles associated with it. Lou, his girlfriend, is very supportive and wants Ruben to pull through. She says clearly that she wants to be with him but entering Joe’s community is essential if he wants to get better, not just physically but mentally too.


Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke showcase great on-screen chemistry as a couple who won’t give up on each other. Ruben, who has been sober from drugs for years, mainly heroin, tries to stay cool to not repeat the same mistake. The credit must go to Lou too, who won’t leave him alone either. But as soon as she allows him to work with Joe on his new reality, things begin to change for Ruben is a stark way.


Sound of Metal’s remarkably sensitive and subtle approach makes it one of the most unique films that touch upon an underrepresented community in the cinematic world. Mostly, with captions and silence, the film does its best to create a spectrum of changes and an outstanding atmosphere that is both captivating and immersive at the same time. With great direction from Darius Marder and pleasing performances from Ahmed and Cooke, “Sound of Metal” delivers more meaning than words can describe by forcing you to think over after the screen fades to black.


Because, at the end of the day, power is not in sound but in its perception and how we interpret it. All new changes come with fears but as soon as we embrace it, it gets easier. Of course, you may say it’s easier said than done. It is, I completely agree with you. But once we realize what we have and what we don’t, and what we may end up with at some point of life, nothing should appear so complicated.

Film is Vailabe OnDemand and on Digital TIFF Bell Light Box.

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