The Sound of Metal is a 2019 American drama film directed by Darius Marder and stars Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci and Lauren Ridloff. The story follows Ruben Stone, a heavy metal drummer of the duo Backgammon who loses his hearing. He and his girlfriend Lou live in an RV and tour around the U.S. performing.
When Ruben (Ahmed) starts to lose his hearing, he goes to a pharmacy trying to get a diagnosis. The pharmacist refers him to a doctor, who concludes that Ruben has lost most of his hearing and the rest will be lost fast. Even though cochlear implants may help him, their costly price is not covered by insurance. The doctor recommends that Ruben keep away from loud noises permanently and go for further testing, but he continues to perform regardless.
Lou (Cooke) wants him to stop performing for his well-being, but he wants to keep going. She is also concerned about him being completely sober. as he is a recovering drug addict. They call his sponsor, Hector, who finds him a shelter for deaf recovering addicts in a rural location, run by a man named Joe, a former alcoholic who lost his hearing in the Vietnam War. Ruben doesn’t want to want to stay, because they will not let Lou live there with him and he only wants the implants. But Lou, concerned about his health, leaves and coaxes Ruben to stay at the shelter.
This is an inspirational film, not just for anyone with hearing loss, but anyone with any sort of disability. It proves that sometimes life sucks, but you have to make the best of it and do what you have to do. It also proves that sometimes you have to let something or someone go in order to better yourself. Ruben starts out selfishly not caring about his well-being, only about performing and making money, until he gets a slap in the face that that isn’t going to work until he works on himself, stopping drugs, going to the shelter and getting the implants.
There isn’t tons of dialog in this film, much of it is in sign language with subtitles, which is neat. The movie is very slow, at times to the point of being boring. The acting is superb and the story is great, but the film itself could have been more engaging. A movie doesn’t need lots of dialog or any at all to be captivating, just needs more exciting scenes and more locations. The majority of this movie’s location is at the deaf shelter and deaf school Ruben volunteers at, which is okay, but needed more action, less sitting around just learning sign language and how to read lips.
After seeing the trailer for this film and all the rave reviews, I was expecting a spectacular film and I didn’t get that. I got a wonderful story that was executed boringly. For a budget of over $5 million, this one seemed more like a low budget independent documentary. It was lagging in the excitement and engagement categories. To me, this didn’t deserve Best Picture or Best Director nominations, there were far better films in 2019, 2020, that did deserve them and weren’t nominated.
If you have an inspirational story, you have to carry it out right, make it worth the viewer’s time and not bore them to tears. I found myself between crying from both certain emotional scenes and being bored. This is not a movie that I can see myself watching over and over again. It isn’t one that I wouldn’t not recommend, as people have different opinions, but I’ve seen movies with inspiring story-lines that actual reeled me in, unlike this one, that I kept wondering if it was ever going to end and when it finally did, it was disappointing. Not a sad ending, but it leaves you hanging, wanting more. The whole, “That’s it?,” ending, which works sometimes, but not with this movie. Effective plot, but a bit of a bore of a film. 18+ 3/5