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Sound of Metal

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A sure-fire nomination for Ahmed- and one of the best films of the year.

Sound of Metal

“I live my life like everyone else; everyone has their own obstacles. Mine is deafness.” Marlee Matlin

For those still dedicated to various fictional and documentary depictions of Helen Keller, thrillers like Audrey stalked in Wait Until Dark, families living quiet in The Quiet, and Beethoven, Sound of Metal is another brilliant primer on how being deaf is a curse and an opportunity. Riz Ahmed will be Oscar nominated for his role as heavy metal drummer, Ruben, who loses his hearing for obvious reasons. 

The world of the deaf comes careening to the audience’s senses with the softening of hearing to deafness while Ruben runs the gamut of emotions and Ahmed portrays with uncanny verisimilitude the many forces deafness brings to bear (obviously superior sound design is also crucial to success). I defy anyone not to be moved with empathy for his plight and pleased at his artistry.

In the initial stages of Ruben’s loss, the drummer goes from concert dynamics to private acquiescence. With the help of singer girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke), he eventually seeks medical help. The apex of the drama arrives at a deaf addict camp, where he slowly uses his talent and charm to connect with seniors to children at the next-door deaf school.

Ruben becomes a loving friend to many afflicted while at the same time showing his struggle to get out, get an operation, and get back to his music. Not a good idea that last one, for primary in all of his vacillations is to preserve whatever hearing he has left. As always, offering the struggle between forces within is a gift from a gifted actor.

Sound of Metal has rich themes that transcend the narrow world of rock drummers: accepting fate, applying new circumstances to greater goals, and not endangering oneself for an elusive temporary boon. Writer and first-time director Marder and co-writer Abraham Marder make sure the hero ultimately must choose his own path, a theme boldly subsuming other patterns.

To enhance understanding of the quiet world and Oscar-winning qualities, see and hear Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal

Director: Darius Marder

Screenplay: Marder (The Place Beyond the Pines), Abraham Marder

Cast: Riz Ahmed (Night Crawler), Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One)

Run Time: 2h

Rating: R

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, is host of WCBE's programs It's Movie Time and Cinema Classics, and the podcasts Back Talk and Double Take. Contact him at johndesando52@gmail.com.