Summary: A drummer begins to lose his sense of hearing.
A few of Sound of Metal’s extremely positive reviews made their way to me back in January and I’m fully aboard the hype train since watching it. It’s intentional, purposeful, and meaningful without being overwhelming. It’s highly polished without being bloated and self-important; it’s empathetic without romanticizing deafness or deaf culture. It’s a movie that just… gets it.
Metal is a simple story about a drummer (an incredible Riz Ahmed) who begins to lose his sense of hearing- and along with that, his own sense of self. Ruben’s music is quite literally his life- it’s how he bonds with his girlfriend, it’s his profession, it dictates his roadie lifestyle. Faced with losing everything he has and struggling to come to terms with his diagnosis, Ruben enrolls at a shelter with other folks who have had similar experiences where they learn “how to be deaf.”
It might be a weird way to describe this, but Metal is one of the most tangible movies I’ve watched in the past year. I didn’t just watch this and absorb the information to understand the situation- I felt for the characters in several different ways. Much of this is achieved by the film’s use of audio, which weaves in and out, muffles, heightens, and disappears depending on Ruben’s state; we’re not just witnessing his loss, but experiencing it with him as much as filmmakers can accurately portray.
And Ahmed- just, phew. There are very few actors that can carry a movie like this from beginning to end. I wish like hell Chadwick Boseman had either already won an Oscar or was nominated in the Supporting category, because this is really a one-of-a-kind performance that deserves many, many awards.