Amazon Studios has shown absolutely zero signs of slowing down their epic onslaught of cinematic releases. Their latest is Darius Marder’s, The Sound of Metal, available in select cities starting today.
The story follows bandmates Lou (Olivia Cooke) and Ruben (Riz Ahmed) as they perform at local venues across the country, living out of their RV. Along the way, Ruben notices his hearing is deteriorating. With a helping hand, he’s given some tough options by his doctor with how to proceed. In life, he’s a recovered addict, as is his girlfriend, and the pressure of what’s been presented to him has taken him to the edge. With Lou supporting him from every angle, Ruben is forced to eat a hearty helping of humility and decide which direction to take at his final fork in the road.
The film is immersive, touching, and simply beautiful. When Ruben’s hearing changes in the film, the sound changes as well, forcing you to notice your ears adjusting. Everything about him losing his hearing and how he dealt with it felt real. Not just as a musician, but as a man, having to come to grips with the fact that you absolutely cannot control everything about your body.
The two are forced to face their pasts after Ruben goes through his first month of hearing loss. With him, a recovering heroin addict, and Lou, someone who resorts to self harm, a decision is ultimately made that the music can wait as the need to focus on themselves is imminent.
The film gives just a snapshot into the life of the hearing impaired, but, it was quite educational. The speech recognition machines, the telephone that would type out conversations on an LCD screen, and the loads of subtext and nuance made for a beautiful experience.
I give The Sound of Metal a 9 out of 10. If you have sensitive hearing, know that there is constant sound adjustment throughout the movie so you can experience the audible changes like the Ruben. Speaking of, don’t be surprised if you hear the name Riz Ahmed during awards season because he nailed this role. The powerful message behind the “loss” of hearing was explained as it really isn’t a loss, it’s just an adjustment. Focus should be put on the head (your mental state and perspective) and not the ears (hearing). Absolutely, beautifully done.
The Sound of Metal opens in Atlanta on Friday, Nov. 20, and available to stream on Prime Video on Dec. 4.
Photos: Courtesy of Amazon Studios