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Sound of Metal - Movie Review

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Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal, the new film from first-time director Darius Marder opens with a loud, distorted cacophony of modulation, ringing, and unpleasant noise as a two-piece metal band thrashes about the stage at a concert.

After nearly five minutes (which begins to feel like a lifetime), the unsettling reverberation suddenly halts to a pure auditory blackout. The abrupt silence is a much-welcomed relief. And that’s the central theme of Marder’s (who co-writes with Derek Cianfrance, The Place Beyond the Pines) Sound of Metal, which perfectly illustrates the idea that learning to live without something (in this case, the sense of hearing), rather than fighting it, can be a liberating experience.

"the big star of the show here is Marder’s startling and innovative sound techniques which take us inside Ruben’s experience"


The musicians are Ruben (Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler), a heavy metal drummer and his girlfriend/bandmate Lou (Olivia Cooke, Ready Player One). They travel around Europe in a beat up motor coach to play their improvisational metal in mostly empty venues. When Ruben is suddenly faced with unexpected hearing loss, Lou encourages him to seek the care of a Vietnam-vet-turned-deaf-community-advocate named Joe (Paul Raci, TV’s Goliath) who attempts to help Ruben adjust to his new lifestyle.

It’s at this point that Marder deftly morphs his story of loss and despair into one of hope and rehabilitation. As we follow Ruben on his experiential journey through pain, loss, and eventual acceptance, we begin to understand that not everyone considers deafness a disability. This point is driven home when Ruben is kicked out of the group home for getting cochlear implants. Joe reminds Ruben that his inability to hear is not an affliction to cure, but something he must learn to accept.Sound of Metal

In addition to the monumental performances of all involved (particularly Ahmed, who will undoubtedly be mentioned come awards season), the big star of the show here is Marder’s startling and innovative sound techniques which take us inside Ruben’s experience. Once there, we’re able to join Ruben on his journey into a rarely examined world where he will be faced with choosing between serenity and the drive to regain the life he once lived.

Sound Editor Nicolas Becker, who has worked as sound designer on such films as Gravity and Mic Macs, plies his craft in Sound of Metal in such a way that the audience is given a frightening demonstration of what it might be like to have hearing loss. And at the same time, Marder open captions the entire movie in English, making it accessible for both hearing and deaf audiences. Not only do Marder and Cianfrance give Ruben a wonderfully realized emotional arc (which Ahmed takes full advantage of), but they’ve also made the film work for both hearing and deaf audiences. Brilliant!

There are countless movies out there that take on the inspirational stories of people with physical disabilities while attempting to present those struggles with a cathartic cleansing that makes us able-bodied citizens feel good about ourselves for caring about the disabled. Some do a better job of it than others. The recent Crip Camp comes to mind as a great example of how a film can help us see past a person’s disabilities. Let’s add Sound of Metal to that list. It is an emotionally raw character study that always feels authentic and presents its message without even once heaping pity on the disabled.

Also starring Mathieu Amalric, Lauren Ridloff, and William Xifaras. Sound of Metal is currently playing on Amazon Prime in the United States. It is a truly sensitive and moving portrait buoyed by one of the year’s best performances.

5/5 stars

Sound of Metal

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor:
Available on Blu-ray

Screen Formats:
Subtitles
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Sound of Metal

MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and brief nude images.
Runtime:
120 mins
Director
: Darius Marder
Writer:
Darius Marder; Derek Cianfrance
Cast:
Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci
Genre
: Drama
Tagline:
Music was his world. Then silence revealed a new one.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Ruben, you hurt yourself, you hurt me. I'll hurt myself, too. I'll hurt myself, too."
Distributor:
Amazon
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 4, 2020
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: The life of an itinerant punk metal drummer begins to unravel when he suddenly loses his hearing, and with it, his identity

Sound of Metal

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