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Amazon Prime SOUND OF METAL (2020) (1 Viewer)

JoeStemme

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There are few things that are more debilitating for a musician than losing one's hearing. Here, a hard rock drummer, Ruben (Riz Ahmed) is a member of a two-piece band with his guitarist/singer girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke). He wakes up one morning practically deaf. Ruben reacts like most immature impulsive head-bangers would - he freaks out. Lou can barely contain her boyfriend's anger long enough to tell him she's found a facility that can help him cope. The community for the deaf is run by Joe (Paul Raci) who's plain-spoken, kind, but firm. When Ruben enters he's still a bucking bronco who just wants to “fix” his problem and get back to his music and Lou.
Director Darius Marder and his brother Abraham's script essentially follows the pattern of an ailment/rehab film (shot on 35mm!), even with such an unusual character at it's front. It's to their credit - and the actors' - that it becomes so affecting. Ahmed's performance builds as the movie progresses -- just like his character. Cooke is solid and saves some of her best for later in the film, as well. But, it's veteran actor Raci who becomes the heart and soul of the piece. Raci's own parents were deaf and he brings a delicacy and intuition to the role that goes far beyond what was on the page. He exhibits tough love, but with genuine feeling. The always welcome Mathieu Amalric is a nice presence as Lou's Belgian father.
The on celluloid lensing by Daniel Bouquet captures the Boston settings well and the music is appropriate even when it's abrasive. The sound work is technically adroit without calling too much attention to itself (which is pretty difficult under the circumstances). The design weaves the viewer in and out of Ruben's head and gives a sense of what the character is going through. Marder is also judicious in how he uses subtitles for the signing only once Ruben himself could understand them. Subtle, but spot on.
SOUND OF METAL takes a bit of time to elevate itself from the standard structure it follows, and there are times where the story doesn't quite flow in quite the way the writers obviously intended, but these are fairly minor quibbles. Just the fact that the film doesn't treat deafness as a 'handicap' is worthy enough of attention, but the acting and technical skill on hand make it something much more. Like Ruben's character, the film grows.
 

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