‘Sound of Metal’ Summary & Analysis – The Deafening Silence


Sound of Metal creates one of those narratives where you are seized by impotent anger. You can’t do anything about it. But you don’t realize it in the beginning. You become restless, you agonize yourself and you try to escape that excruciating pain. And then you collapse.

You wake up to find your world has shattered and your dreams have vanished into oblivion. It’s a world where you can no longer remember your past and your future becomes incapacitated. What is left of you also slowly starts to leave you.

Your mind and body slowly understand that the more fidgety you become, the tighter the grip is going to get. It’s then you realise the impotency of your emotions and retaliation.

When despair strikes with all it’s might, when the days become cloudy and shadows become darker at night when solitude takes the form of loneliness, it is then the human spirit is pushed into an unknown, suffocating void. It’s a vacuum. It’s an intractable trap. It is in this abyss you realize things about yourself that otherwise would have taken two lifetimes to understand.

Not the Music we know!

Sound of Metal is directed by Darius Marder. The screenplay written by Marder makes you uneasy as if you can feel the angst yourself. But the credit of this feeling does not go to the screenplay alone. It is the gut-wrenching, strained and phoney titters of Ruben, the protagonist, that share the credit. Ruben, played by the amazing Riz Ahmed, is a drummer by profession. He, with his girlfriend, Lou, has created a band named Blackgammon.

Lou sings shrieky hard metal songs while Ruben gives beats to the same. He never knew that these beats and sound and music will be the cause of unbearable despair. Due to constant exposure to loud noise, he loses his hearing capability. Lou gets worried and urges him to join a commune, situated somewhere in the outskirts, to help him cope up with the situation. It is in this deaf community that Ruben meets Joe (Paul Raci), the owner of the place, and himself having a hearing impairment. Joe had his rules about life and the importance of acceptance.

Life takes Ruben to places which he never thought  he would visit in this lifetime. But then when has life been ever predictable!

About Life and Stillness

The director enunciates the importance of letting go what cannot be mended. I guess this is how we survive. Because life keeps on moving constantly and trying to escape the inevitable is a sheer waste of the limited time we have.

Sound of Metal could be summarised as being Ruben’s journey from a state of restlessness to finding his peace. It is about accepting the silence when you have already seen your future immersed in beats and rhythm.

Joe talks about a place of stillness. A place from where no one abandons you. All the chaos comes to a halt. Everything is like still water. Peace overpowers resentment here.

But one cannot force these things. It has to evolve over a period of time. Ruben experiences a state of flux. His mind is jammed and why shouldn’t it be. To talk philosophy is one thing but when you face the storm in reality, it is then you realise how strong your shield was. He finds himself terribly alone. He exists in a buffer zone, where he doesn’t belong to this world but he is yet to reach his destination. A place where the sound of metal has faded but you can hear yourself breathe very clearly.

About Ruben and Lou

The relationship that they share is written in a pragmatic manner. They are not telling a fairy tale that needs to have a generic ending for it to be called romantic. Their love is mature. Mature enough to understand when it is about time. The problem is we are never taught how to let go. It is the most difficult of all things. But you have to, after a point of time. It’s not about what you left behind but what stays with you.

Riz Ahmed and Olivia Looke put up a grand show. Margret Chardiet, who is a musician in a band called Pharmakon, trained both the actors. While Riz attended drumming classes in addition to learning sign language, Olivia learned how to forcefully enunciate the metal vocals. It is due to such extensive training that they both bring nuances and details that are a treat for any viewer. Their lifestyle, their emotions, their angst and their bond on the screen looks extremely plausible.

Paul Raci brings about an aura of sensibility in his character, Joe. It feels just by seeing him that he is somebody who has lost quite a bit. He has learnt to suppress the chaos but that doesn’t mean that it never existed.

Sound of Metal does not have a unique premise. We have heard this story before. But it is in the nature of treating the premise combined with some extraordinary performances that make it a spectacle to watch. The film will make sure that you do not take anything for granted in this erratic life.

Sound of Metal is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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