Sound of Metal (2020) – Summary/ Review (with Spoilers)

Movie Poster - Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal has the performances needed to make it a stirring, likely Oscar-caliber movie, but after a certain point, it overstays its welcome.

Sound of Metal has the performances needed to make it a stirring, likely Oscar-caliber movie, but after a certain point, it overstays its welcome.

Director(s) Darius Marder
Screenplay/ Story By Darius Marder, Abraham Marder, Derek Cianfrance
Date Released (Amazon Prime) 12/4/2020
Genre(s) Drama, Romance, Young Adult
Duration 2 Hours 10 Minutes
Rating Rated R
Noted Cast
Lou Olivia Cooke
Ruben Riz Ahmed
Joe Paul Raci

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Plot Summary

Blackgammon was a band comprised of Louise “Lou” and Ruben, who traveled across the United States with their form of rock. A genre that, in time, began to degrade Ruben’s hearing. Which, with being a former heroin addict, matching Lou being a former cutter, not only had the potential to rock their refrain from self-harm but their relationship. After all, both of them have been clean and good to themselves, as well as each other, for four years.

Yet, their mutual sponsor advocates Ruben to get help to learn to adjust to what is likely his new way of life, as getting a $40,000+ surgery to hear something, which isn’t covered by insurance, isn’t on the table. However, losing any sense, limb, or anything that disrupts your sense of normal is hard. Which leads to the question of can Ruben make it, possibly on his own, or will old habits be required to numb the pain of his most recent loss?

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Smoking, language, scenes showing the inside of Ruben’s head, scarring from self-harm
  • Jump Scares/ Laughs/ Tear-Jerking Moments: Honestly, there was at least one, but it only led to tears welling up. The film didn’t push us over the edge.
  • Why can’t more screeners, especially the online ones, not have subtitles as an option? Especially if it is ultimately going to be released online, with subtitles, anyway?



The Delicate Balance Between The Fear of Becoming Deaf, But Not Having Deaf People Become Less Than

Paul Raci as Joe in Sound of Metal
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

I think it is safe to say most people have a general fear of losing their ability to walk, hear, talk, and a lot of the common things people take for granted. Which makes Ruben’s hearing loss an interesting subject matter since he isn’t a teenager or an older man losing his hearing, Ruben is maybe in his 20s, early 30s, and music is his life. So when you see him spiral and take note he is a former addict, you expect the worse.

Yet, as much as you can see him treat going deaf as something to fix, you have to appreciate Joe, a counselor at a community for the deaf, trying to focus on him changing that perspective. For too often, we get a “despite of” kind of story and how someone overcame an injury or what have you. Joe doesn’t set that tone. His job is to help Ruben transition to what has become his new life, and what is wonderfully done in the two Marders’ screenplay is balance between Ruben fighting for his old life but adjusting to this new one.

Which never really takes, but it never makes the dead community less than. Rather, it acknowledges that Ruben wasn’t born deaf and with that, to expect him to just give up the life he has always known is impossible. Yet, with so many welcoming him and the community’s diversity, you’re reminded that, just like in the gay community and Black community, which intersect with the deaf community, you can always find people who can relate. Not only that, but will help ease you into adapting to the world, even when the world has very little intention of adapting, tolerating, or accommodating you.

The Relationship Between Lou and Ruben

Olivia Cooke as Lou in Sound of Metal
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

The initial hook of Sound of Metal is this interdependent relationship between Lou and Ruben. He is a former addict, she used to be a cutter, and with them getting better being when they started dating, it presents this bond you see is essential for both parties. Alongside that, considering we see Ruben play an active role in making sure Lou gets out of bed, doesn’t enter a funk, it makes you very invested in this relationship.

Heck, the first moment that might get you in your feelings is when you are told that Ruben has to be at Joe’s group home on his own, and you’re left questioning what that means for Lou? Especially since Joe doesn’t allow electronic devices, and with those two living out of their van, it really pushes you to wonder what the hell is going to happen with Lou?

On The Fence

It Just Feels Too Long, Especially Once Lou Disappears

This is where the movie sort of goes wrong. While you do have to appreciate Ruben’s journey, in terms of dealing with becoming deaf, Lou being cut out of most of it devastates the film. Especially considering it is two hours and the absence of what Lou brought, be it her own individual issues or Ruben in a relationship, becomes dearly missed.

Ruben played by Riz Ahmed
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Add in her being rushed in on the tail end and you learning about her mom, dad, and all the things that could have been done throughout the movie, it just makes Lou feel underutilized. If not the character’s contribution to the film downplayed.


Positive (Worth Seeing)

While we may wish Lou played a more significant on-screen role in the film, it essentially is about Ruben’s journey. Which does feel as long and arduous for him as a person, as you a viewer, yet it is in the frustration and watching Ruben’s desperation are you allowed to live vicariously. Add in Joe presenting a community that thrives and is joyous, and it gives you all sides to what could have been a problematic story if not done right.

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