Sound of Metal was picked up by Amazon Studios off the festival circuit. Amazon has enough money to snag the best films from independent creators and with Prime, they have a wonderful distribution network. Riz Ahmed plays Ruben, a death metal drummer who suddenly loses his hearing. His bandmate Lou, Olivia Cooke, is also his girlfriend and companion in their fourth year of sobriety. Ruben wants to hold onto his hearing and is trying to find a way to pay for cochlear implants.
Lou is concerned that Ruben will fall back into his addiction and finds a combination, deaf and sober living community. Paul Raci plays Joe, the recovering alcoholic owner, and leader of the community. Joe tries to help Ruben become a part of the deaf community despite Ruben’s insistence on getting his hearing back via surgery. Many within the deaf community do not accept those with cochlear implants as part of the community. Ruben is reluctant to go through the journey of self-discovery Joe is asking him to. Like most addicts, Ruben makes positive steps and then relapses, but in this story, he isn’t falling back into drugs, he is struggling to accept his own deafness.
The sound editing for the film is almost another character. The sound bounces from normal audio to muted like you are underwater to total silence. You are forced to sit with the silence just as Ruben must. There are a few long scenes that can start to border on uncomfortable in the best way with the sound being altered.
This was a great movie for Amazon to buy and I am glad a broader audience has a chance to see it. Paul Raci has already won several awards for his supporting role. A Quiet Place may be the most similar film to this based on sound mixing. They are drastically different stories, but they both make you more aware of how sound surrounds us and what it might be like if that changed.