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Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal

A Drummer Loses His Hearing but Gains Perspective 

By Israel Gutierrez  

Ruben, played by Riz Ahmed, is a drummer in a band with his girlfriend Lou, played by Olivia Cooke. He is living in an RV and going on tour, but after performing a show, he suddenly realizes he has lost his hearing. Understandably worried, he makes an appointment at a doctor’s office in order to check what’s going on, and what the possible solution is. 

Riz Ahmed (as Rueben) getting into the rhythm of a show. Photo by Imdb.

After finding out that he needs to get cochlear implants, some hope is restored because he can get his hearing back. However, hope leaves as fast as it comes because his medical insurance won’t cover the expensive operation. 

Rueben, a recovering addict who is four years sober, struggles to maintain the sobriety that he has worked so hard for. The sudden and drastic change from living the rock star life with his girlfriend to losing his hearing stresses him out to the point of compulsively destroying some of his belongings. 

His girlfriend easily sees that he needs help and gets in touch with his sponsor, who then points them towards a rehab facility for the hearing impaired. Ruben struggles with the decision to be checked into the facility—and by doing so, he has officially left his rock star lifestyle and the love of his life for the time being. 

At the beginning of his stay in rehab he is upset, but eventually—through spending time in and building connections with this newfound community of hearing-impaired people—he grows to like it. However, he still wishes he had his hearing back. 

Ruben then resorts to selling all his possessions in order to make enough money to go through with the procedure to get the implants. 

With his hearing restored, but still recovering, he leaves the facility to reunite with his girlfriend who is visiting her father in Paris, France. When they reunite, she has both visibly and musically changed her style from the rock star look to a more conservative one. 

Their reunion is a moment of shared thankfulness. Now that his life has changed drastically from what it used to be, he must learn to adjust. 

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This movie is about overcoming adversity, among other things. From living in an RV with no money, losing his hearing, and leaving behind the life he knew for a road to recovery, challenge after challenge is sent Ruben’s way. 

Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke lookin’ fresh at an event in 2019. Photo by Imdb.

The pacing of this movie was very slow, but it was done artistically to coincide with the feelings of Ruben as he is on this journey. 

Throughout the movie, there was often little to no dialogue taking place. And when there was dialogue, it was severely muffled and distorted because it was showing us what Ruben was hearing to connect us to his struggle. I thought that was an amazing part of this film. 

In life, there are always obstacles thrown in our direction, but it is all about how we respond to these adversities. This film does a great job showing someone struggling with adversity and the power of our response.  

The story of Ruben and his journey of hope is one that I recommend watching. “Sound of Metal” (2019) can be found free on Amazon Prime Video. 

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