Drama Music

Sound of Metal

See and hear this gripping drama through the ears of a deaf drummer.

I’m not a rocker or a musician, but I do know for a fact that those who are must hear ear plugs when performing at concerts or bar gigs. My cousin has a band called “Sweet Lou and the River Rats.” I’ve been to a show of his at a bar in Atlantic Highlands, and while I was praising his band’s performance, I knew the room was getting noisy. I didn’t want to get a soar throat if I shouted too much, and I didn’t want my ears to feel all funky if it was too loud. My cousin assured me that they do wear ear plugs, and they don’t play as loud, so that’s a relief.

The reason I’m reminding musicians to wear ear plugs is because I’m highly endorsing “Sound of Metal,” a drama about a drummer, who must learn the hard way of not wearing them. In fact, I don’t even think the characters talk about them. But the movie isn’t really about messages; it’s more about learning to accept your conditions. I’m not a deaf person, but as an autistic person, I still must accept my reality, so I can see where “Sound of Metal” was going.

Actually, I shouldn’t just use the word “see,” but also hear. It allows us to hear the movie through the perspectives of a person on the verge of deafness. At times, we hear cloudy and muffled dialogue, other times we hear clearly, and other times, we hear it through shabby earring aids. Writer/director Darius Marder and co-writer Derek Cianfrance (both of whom collaborated on “The Place Beyond the Pines”) deliver on an exceedingly dangerous level, and provide us with the realities these deaf characters have. At first, there aren’t any subtitles for the sign language scenes, but they come up later in the film, for those of you who can’t understand it.

Riz Ahmed gives the most astonishing performance of his career as Ruben Stone, who constantly bangs the drums in his band so much, that he begins to lose his hearing. He walks out of one of his shows, freaking out, because he can barely hear himself talk. Such powerful representations of this particular kind of fear I’m seeing.

The operation that could help him regain his hearing, more or less, is costly, but in the meantime, he and his girlfriend/manager Lou (Olivia Cooke) have another option. They go to a deaf community-run by the wise old lip reader Joe (Paul Raci, a real-life Sign Language interpreter and CODA)-which could help him learn to come to terms with his condition. Ruben struggles to adapt to his new surroundings, but he takes his delicate time to figure out his situation while warming up to some members. We don’t get much basis out of them, but we are mostly concerned about the main protagonist’s well-being, and where he intends to lead his life.

“Sound of Metal” explodes when we Ruben’s drumming world deteriorating, starting with him banging the drums, losing his hearing, and struggling to adapt to his turmoil. Ahmed is perfectly cast in that particular role, and he looks great with his blonde-dyed hair and beard. He looks like a drummer with sincere feelings and emotions. Among the supporting cast, Cooke offers some solid work as his girlfriend, Raci has some bold words of wisdom as the lip reader, and Mathieu Amalric has a nice cameo role as the girlfriend’s father.

I have respect for the deaf community, and it was easy for me to acknowledge their world, and how they live their lives. They live by acceptance-never losing faith and living life in their own special ways. The film, itself, is touching, risky, and bold; and creates a vivid lead character who needs to learn to deal with his new silent life.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

In Select Theaters This Friday

Coming to Amazon Prime December 4

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