Sound of Metal is a drummer’s worst nightmare. Similar to Whiplash, Sound of Metal is an angry drumming movie that deserved Best Picture (but unsurprisingly didn’t win). I’m not a heavy metal fan, but I knew I’d like Sound of Metal as soon as I learned about it on Amazon Prime. The very simple premise follows the struggle of a heavy metal drummer who begins to lose his hearing. I didn’t think much of Riz Ahmed beforehand, but his performance is captivating. Ruben Stone feels like a genuine hard rocker and former addict with an underground band.
Olivia Cooke is similarly dedicated to playing the band’s singer/guitar player and Ruben’s emotional rock Lou. Ahmed earns his Best Actor nomination by exploring the five stages of grief. Denial comes when Ruben first starts to lose his hearing. There’s no way Sound of Metal wasn’t going to win Oscars for Best Film Editing and Best Sound. Hearing loss is effectively captured with scenes of complete silence, entire conversations with no sound, and subtitles only coming in when Ruben learns sign language. Ruben experiences anger multiple times throughout, but Lou helps him by finding a community for the deaf.
Bargaining is mostly seen as Ruben looks for ways to keep drumming. His primary goal is trying to get a cochlear implant procedure. Paul Raci centers the movie as the head of his shelter’s Christian organization for the deaf. Raci earns his Best Supporting Actor nomination as a real life coda with deaf parents. They clash over opposing viewpoints, but Joe does everything he can to help Ruben. Depression comes near the end when Ruben doesn’t get exactly what he wants. Finally ending with a beautiful moment of acceptance. Sound of Metal speaks from the heart.