In the 2020 drama Mogul Mowgli, co-author and star Riz Ahmed plays a British-Pakistani rapper suffering from a debilitating illness ahead of his international breakthrough. In “Sound of Metal,” which premiered in Toronto in 2019, Ahmed played an American drummer whose life has changed drastically since deafness began. Stylistically, the two films are no different; Sound of Metal is a very realistic docudrama. Both films deal with identity, a sensitive issue facing Ahmed in the exciting 2020 film Goodbye from 2020, which is currently undergoing his best work, including this famous Oscar contender.
Ahmed is Ruben Stone, who played drums with guitarist Lou (Olivia Cook) in Backgammon:
They are partners on and offstage, traveling around the US in a converted RV that serves as a recording studio. But when Rubens’ hearing suddenly failed. He was outside the bubble in which he had been around for so long.
After ignoring medical advice to avoid making loud noises, cured drug addict Ruben, led by his sponsor Hector on a retreat led by Joe and Paul Raci, veteran stage and film actors who are the children of deaf parents, performed brilliantly. This is an opportunity for new life. But will Rubens’ desperation to regain his hearing stifle future growth?
With astonishing precision, Marder reminisced about a world where every detail sounded real.
Director and co-author Darius Marder, who made the 2008 documentary Hunt for Treasure, The Loot. Sound of Metal has its roots in an unfinished project by Derek Sianfrance Marder. It worked on the script for The Place Beyond the Pines. Cianfrance’s unfinished film Metalhead must star a fictional story about hearing loss in real-life duo-metal duo Jucifer. The bones of this abandoned project are occupied by Marder. Whose grandmother is deaf and wrote the screenplay “The Sound of Metal” with the musician brother Abraham.
From noise walls from Rubens’ rock shows (captured live, in front of an actual audience) to heated group discussions in American Sign Language (ASL), Sound of Metal finds universal appeal in the meticulous details rooted in Ahmed’s effective engagement.
“The deaf community taught me what it means to listen,” says Ahmed, explaining the physical feature of signatures – the use of the whole body as a means of expression. There is something sublime about seeing an artist of Ahmed’s caliber take to the next level as if his craft had developed as he learned this new language. While Ruben could hide behind his words, Ahmed has never been more emotional than when communicating via ASL.
In the title Sound of Metal, there’s a clever nod:
To the distorted tone that Ruben experienced when he switched to cochlear implants (contrary to Joe’s advice). After composer/sound designer Nicholas Becker and his team brilliantly recall Rubens’ experiences of physical. Rather than acoustic vibrations (he can feel the drums even when he doesn’t hear them). They evoke a sharp electronic dissonance that affects Ruben’s internals. Reflects conflict. Just as addiction is a central theme, Rubens’s desperate desire for surgery. It becomes a metaphor for a broader crisis of faith. And identity struggle embodied in a multilayered sound design.
I sometimes think of the 2014 Ukrainian drama The Tribe, which, despite its harsh nihilism. It still captures the collectivist community’s essence. A community in which Ruben was celebrated and exiled. Like the underrated 2016 British masterpiece Notes on Blindness. It released in audio and an enhanced version of the soundtrack to improve accessibility. Sound of Metal is presented with open captions, meaning that in film screening (remember this?) Deaf and hard-hearing viewers can experience the film together. It is appropriate for films that deserve to be watched by as many audiences. As possible and reminds us of cinema’s unique ability to challenge, entertain, lift, and unite.