'Sound of Metal': Of tragedy, distortion and endless disbelief

Shubham Dasgupta
·3-min read


19 Dec 2020: 'Sound of Metal': Of tragedy, distortion and endless disbelief

Amazon Prime Video had teased this unusual film in December that looked like we would get to see an elevated form of struggle in music.

And, it rightfully shows how a drummer in a band struggles with acute hearing difficulties.

Beginning to watch this film bases on the idea that something as great as Whiplash is in store.

The early sequences give you that.

Premise: Ruben is the drummer, that tattooed rocker we picturize

You see the life of a usual drummer in a heavy-metal band in the film.

A quintessential rebel, Ruben, played by Riz Ahmed, is that tattooed rocker who bases his ego and disbelief about everything else around him on the sole premise of knowing to play his instrument well.

He is in a relationship with singer Lou (Olivia Cooke), and they make a duo.

Rocking start: Ruben and Lou are in love but something brews up

Like two musicians in love behave, Lou wakes up beside Ruben in his recreational vehicle (RV), loaded with his drumkit, mixers, premium equipment, album art and other memorabilia.

Simply put, that RV is where Ruben lives as he drives it to gigs, bangs the drums while Lou screams to the microphone.

But Ruben rules himself and hates Lou for having the edge over him.

Shock: Ruben's confidence drops with hearing impairment

Things go south when Ruben's ears are shocked by a screeching sound that suddenly cancels every audio surrounding him.

This goes on for moments, and Ruben blinks, shakes his head to drop that feeling then and there.

But, the sound subdues to a weird constant sensation in which all he hears is muted samples of people speaking.

Gig gone wrong: His performance forces him to reveal his status

However, Ruben stays rebellious and tries to monitor his receptivity as he coughs, talks to himself with the uneasiness persisting.

The film, directed and screen-written by Darius Marder, exhibits some marvellous sound design as the film flashes back and forth between audio receptivity of Ruben and others with hearing ability intact.

Ruben flips out when he continues a drum roll after Lou's song ends.

Treatment options: Lou coaxes Ruben to join deaf care

Lou, painted in a different light by Ruben, shows genuine responsibility toward her struggling boyfriend and takes him to a deaf community facility head by an old, virtuous and patient man named Joe.

Protesting against the facility, Ruben actually blends well with the people there but is determined to fix himself via cochlear implant surgery, for which he sells his equipment and RV.

Verdict: 3.5/5: The overstretched film guides viewers to tragedy through silence

Life gives an inexpensive rehabilitation to Ruben, who banks too much on the implants.

He breaks Lou's promise of settling himself in deaf care, sells everything for an outcome he didn't want.

The overstretched film guides viewers to tragedy through silence, broken by disturbing distorted audio evoking sympathy for the drummer in denial.

Ahmed, Cooke and Paul Raci (Joe) spice it up for 3.5/5.