Sound of Metal (2019)

sound of metal poster 2019 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visual: 9/10

Good story about how traumatic events can change the core of a person


Movie Info

Movie Name: Sound of Metal

Studio: Caviar

Genre(s): Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  September 6, 2019 (Toronto International Film Festival)/November 20, 2020 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

sound of metal hearing test riz ahmed

I see a cat…wait, this isn’t a Rorschach test?

Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed) and his girlfriend Lou Berger (Olivia Cooke) have come through a lot over the years while performing as a metal band called Blackgammon.  When Ruben sudden loses his hearing, he finds his life in turmoil and the only hope could be an expensive cochlear implant to restore his hearing.  Until he can find a way to get the money, Ruben must learn how to be deaf and what it means to live in a world without sound.  Going to a group home focusing on learning and teaching, Ruben finds himself separated from Lou and working with the home leader Joe (Paul Raci) to regain his balance.

Directed by Darius Marder who penned the screenplay with Abraham Marder, Sound of Medal is a drama and romance movie.  The film originally was released in 2019 at the Toronto International Film Festival but didn’t receive and official release until 2020 when it began streaming on Amazon.  The film was met with positive reviews and received Academy Awards for Best Sound and Best Film Editing with nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Ahmed), Best Supporting Actor (Raci), and Best Original Screenplay.

sound of metal riz ahmed paul raci

You gotta find yourself

I first heard about Sound of Metal on a radio interview and went into it with little knowledge other than comments from Riz Ahmed about making the film.  The movie is set as a drama, but it also is a film about a strong (sometimes a bit toxic) love that is faced with a crisis of identity.  Due to some aspects of the story, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

Both Lou and Ruben are broken and have found a tentative peace with themselves when the movie begins.  They had both been in crisis (his drug addiction and her mother’ suicide) but together they had stuck it out.  When faced with another crisis, both characters are kind snapped out of the balance they had found.  Ruben discovers he is angry at the world and not dealing with his addiction (or his sobriety) as well as he thought.  Lou was still cutting, and both were codependent on each other.  Ruben is given another way and his path to balance is watched.  Lou’s story happens off camera, but end up on a path that leads them to their own place of peace.

sound of metal sign language class riz ahmed

We are going f*!$ing rock!!!!

I honestly haven’t seen much of Riz Ahmed.  I kept meaning to watch The Night of for which he was critically acclaimed, but I never could face it.  Here, he gives a great performance with a lot of nuance and a tricky aspect of trying to figure out what it would mean to be deaf which probably isn’t possible for a person with hearing.  You can see his character fundamentally changings, realizing this, and fighting that change.  Olivia Cooke I was familiar with through Bates Motel which I watched in its entirety so it is a bit harder to see her not as her character there.  Paul Raci who can hear but grew up in a family with deaf parents gives a great and realistic performance as a person who is trained to give guidance to people who often come to him with multiple problems.

sound of metal riz ahmed olivia cooke cochlear implants

Everything is hunky-dory now…

The film is well put together and as expected with a movie about hearing, much of the movie is an audio based movie.  There is a lot of play with trying to recreate what Ruben is hearing both as he loses his hearing and with the cochlear implants, and the movie does a good job of that…which adds real fear as a member of the audience because you question how you would handle Ruben’s situation.

Sound of Metal is a strong movie that wasn’t anything I really expected.  The story is original and the cast is good.  It raises questions (which have been debated before) about the idea of “fixing” people with hearing loss and tries to clarify that cochlear implants aren’t always a fix as some believe.  While the story of lost hearing may be central to the movie, the ideas of a relationship plateauing as both partners move on seals the deal for the film and raises from a good film to a great film.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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