There is a beautiful sequence at that point in which he is playing with a kid on a metal slide, the name of the film comes from that particular sequence. In that scene, Ruben realizes that silence has its own music. It feels better if you actually start listening and accepting that this is the only sound that exists or matters in your life now.
This review contains major spoilers and analytical discussion about the film. Better to read it only after you have watched the film.
Amazon Studios’ Sound of Metal starring Riz Ahmed in the lead, tells the story of a rock band drummer who suddenly starts losing his sense of hearing quickly. As the volume of the world around him comes down, his life as well starts crumbling down as if one block is removed in a wrong manner from a Jenga tower. The film is a journey of adapting and accepting a sudden change in life.
The sound in a way is the main protagonist of this film. The film starts with a shrill sound of silence and then transitions into hard rock music. After that, you can still hear the music but the lyrics Lou (Olivia Cooke) is singing are pretty inaudible. Moving on with the film, you will realize that this is an early hint dropped by the makers of the incoming tragedy of hearing loss. Darius Marder brilliantly plays with sequences of dialogues and silence. He exactly knows what to hide in the noise of silence and what to pass as a general sound. Like the first time when Ruben (Riz Ahmed) losses his hearing was just after he says the words “ soundcheck”.
Riz Ahmed is a brilliant actor and he has proven this yet again in this film. His performance doesn’t only tell his state of mind as a person who suddenly loses his sense of hearing but it also determines the rhythm of the film. At first, he tries to process this sudden change, he is nervous but he is still pretty much calm about it and so is the film. But, what happens when a guy who breathes music suddenly comes to know that he cannot listen anymore? He eventually starts feeling shortness of breath and leaves the stage. The calmness or the processing phase is gone. He starts losing his shit again and again quickly.
The next phase of the film begins when he joins a community of deaf people. At first, he is ignoring everything being taught to him but at exactly halfway through the film, he starts accepting himself. At least for a while. There is a beautiful sequence at that point in which he is playing with a kid on a metal slide, the name of the film comes from that particular sequence. In that scene, Ruben realizes that silence has its own music. It feels better if you actually start listening and accepting that this is the only sound that exists or matters in your life now.
From the very beginning, if you read the expressions of Lou, you can guess she’s hiding something behind her hard face on the stage. She seems to be very happy with Ruben but is she really happy with him or the kind of life she lives with him? When Ruben reveals his sudden tragedy, you feel she is just going to say “ I am not ready for this.” any moment. The story is just not only about Ruben accepting himself the way he is but it’s also about Lou accepting herself and start doing what she loves rather than chase a completely different genre, just for the sake of running from her past memories.
Overall, Sound of Metal is a genuine portrayal of adapting to a sudden change and it definitely qualifies for a must-watch. Riz Ahmed at least deserves a nomination at the Oscars for his amazing performance in this film.
Cast: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci.
Director: Darius Marder.
Streaming: Amazon Prime.