Friday Film Review--"Sound Of Metal"
The list of Academy Award Best Picture nominees is long this year, with eight films to choose from. But Linda Jager, with the Friday Film Review, has singled out her favorite.
A darkhorse contender for the 2021 Oscars, "Sound of Metal" is easy to overlook in the field of 8 Best Picture nominees.
I hadn’t heard much about the film before I streamed it at home last weekend, but that’s precisely what drew me in.
"Sound of Metal" opens on the lead character, Ruben (played by Best Actor nominee Riz Ahmed). He’s a drummer in a heavy metal band finishing up a gig with his girlfriend Lou (played by Olivia Cooke), who’s on vocals and lead guitar. Their music is loud – sludge metal – with screaming vocals and an intense drum back-up.
The harsh sound of music is suddenly interrupted with a muffled quiet, foreshadowing a sudden and tragic hearing loss for Ruben. A former addict, it appears Ruben doesn’t have any financial or support resources he needs to deal with this devastating loss.
Ruben and Lou live and travel to back-to-back gigs in their van. Stuck in a small city in Missouri, they must quickly find a way to get Ruben help for his hearing loss and continued support for his sobriety.
A call to Ruben’s sponsor leads to a place for Ruben to go - a commune for hearing impaired children and adults. There, Ruben meets his mentor Joe (played by Best Supporting Actor nominee Paul Raci). A Vietnam vet who lost his hearing after the war, Paul is also a recovering addict.
To get the help he needs, Ruben must leave Lou behind and commit to spending time at the commune with Joe to learn sign language and immerse himself in the deaf community. It’s there that Ruben learns to navigate his new world, while the film transitions from a gritty drama to a story of hope and acceptance.
The film’s sound has an equally important role as the cast. Sound designer Nicolas Becker created a silent soundscape to simulate the auditory experience of deafness to share the story from Ruben’s “point of sound.”
"Sound of Metal" is the first dramatic film by writer/director Darius Marder, who is also nominated for his first Oscar. The film was 12-years in the making but was shot in just 28 days in various locations in and around Boston in Marder’s home state of Massachusetts.
"Sound of Metal" was co-written by Derek Cianfrance, who based the film on his previous hybrid documentary "Metalhead", a similar story featuring the husband and wife members of the band Jucifer portraying themselves.
"Sound of Metal" has been nominated for 6 Oscars:
• Best Picture
• Best Original Screenplay
• Best Actor
• Best supporting actor
• Best Film editing; and
• Best sound – Which should be a lock for Becker.
Running 2 hours and streaming on Prime Video, "Sound of Metal" is rated R for language and brief nude images. It’s a must-watch in the run-up to the Oscars later this month.
This is Linda Jager with the KPCW Friday Film Review.