- 09 Apr 21
'Sound Of Metal' arrives on Amazon Prime on Monday, April 12th.
Darius Marder's intense Sound of Metal (2019) tracks Riz Ahmed's performance as Ruben Stone, a heavy metal drummer who rapidly loses his hearing and sees his life unravel when addiction comes back to haunt him.
Marder's script, co-written with his brother Abraham, establishes Ruben as a man convinced he can "fix" himself; he’s plagued by denial and considers his hearing loss to be only a temporary problem. Afterwards, Ruben’s bandmate and girlfriend, Lou (the expressive Olivia Cooke), is faced with her own impossible choices regarding their relationship and career. Having replaced the high of heroin and self-harm with the rush of performance, their alarming codependence resurfaces once Ruben’s hearing fades.
Ruben must accept treatment for rehabilitation within a remote Deaf Community, but is forced to separate from Lou and the outside world in the process. Throughout the film, Ahmed’s portrayal of a helpless, isolated man is simultaneously panic-inducing and heartbreaking. Quiet anger simmers in every ounce of his body language, with Ruben no longer able to utilise drums to express himself.
His story is not presented as inspirational; instead, Marder illustrates the tangible desperation of a man trying in vain to claw back his old life.
Nicolas Becker’s Oscar-nominated sound design, meanwhile, adds to the intensity.
From the initial soundscapes of howling feedback and thundering drums, to the muffled drums and high-pitched ringing that signify hearing loss, we’re dragged into Ruben’s shattered world.
This unsettling and ominous feeling - akin to being submerged underwater - only worsens as Sound Of Metal progresses.
Meanwhile, despite a relative lack of screen time, Paul Raci also excels as Joe, a Vietnam vet and fellow addict. Raci’s experience as a hearing son of deaf parents, and fluency in American Sign Language, gives unique authenticity to his performance as Ruben’s mentor.
Joe attempts to break through Ruben’s denial, and show him loss of hearing should not be treated as a handicap to “fix”. Maintaining its hard edge right to the end, Sound Of Metal offers an unflinching depiction of a minority too often shunted aside by the world at large.
Indeed, Marder and his outstanding cast deserve every plaudit they receive for fearlessly exposing how, even in 2021, society for some remains cruelly inaccessible.