Film Review: Sound Of Metal Dir: Darius Marder

Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci

Nominated for 6 Academy Awards and winner of 2, Sound Of Metal’s message should resonate with anyone who spends a good portion of their free time standing in front of a PA blasting live music for hours at a time.

To be honest, until this past weekend, I had never heard of Sound Of Metal, but a  podcast I regularly tune in to (Sound Opinions) featured an interview with actor and musician Paul Raci about his Oscar-nominated performance in Sound Of Metal and from there I found it on my Apple TV app.

Nek minnit…the Oscars are on TV and I see that the film I had just watched the night before was nominated for 6 of the little buggers, eventually winning 2 (Best Film Editing and Best Sound).

So, why should you spend your time and money watching Sound Of Metal?

Chances are, if you’re a 13th Floor regular, you listen to a lot of music, much of it live. And chances are, if you’re like me, you give the state of your hearing only a passing thought.

Sound Of Metal tells the story of a metal drummer, Ruben (Riz Ahmed) who suddenly loses his hearing. We see him bashing away on his drums, supporting band mate (and girlfriend) Lou (Olivia Cooke) who is the vocalist and guitarist in the band (actually a duo).

Needless to say, Ruben is in a state of panic as his hearing rapidly deteriorates. He goes to a pharmacist who sends him to a doctor who gives him the bad news…his hearing is 20% at best and getting worse. There is no cure other than avoiding loud noise and possibly getting a very expensive operation, cochlear implant surgery. The US health system being what it is, the chances of Ruben, a small time rock musician and ex-addict, coming up with thousands of dollars are slim to none.

Instead, with the help and support of Lou, Ruben is persuaded to join a “rural shelter for the deaf”, a type of commune run by Joe (Paul Raci), a Vietnam vet who lost his hearing in the war.

From there the film takes us on Ruben’s journey as he interacts with the other residents of the shelter (including children), concocts a plan to raise money for the surgery and, generally, learns a lot about himself and others.

Yes, it can get a bit touchy-feely, but Marder, who also co-wrote the screenplay, knows when to pull back on the pathos.

It’s an inspiring thoughtful film and one that music fans of all generations should watch and consider.

Let’s face it, many of us think we are indestructible, especially in our 20s. I remember coming out of a gig (The Dictators) in 1978, climbing into my car and hearing nothing but a loud buzz as I drove home. Fortunately the damage was temporary and minimal, but I know at age 65 that my hearing is not 100%.

So, watch Sound Of Metal and be warned!

Marty Duda