Do You Hear What I Hear (Film Thoughts: The Sound of Metal)

One of my fears (God knows I have many ) is losing my sense of hearing. Music is very important to me, and I started listening on my Walkman with headphones blaring during my teens. And when I lived in New York, I had my headphones with me everywhere, and wonder if all that has done damage to my hearing.

Maybe that’s why I found Darius Marder’s ‘Sound Of Metal’ difficult to watch. I am nto a big fan of ‘disease movies’ in general – it gives me anxiety, and ZI have enough in my life of that. Every time I see scenes of visits to doctor’s offices with grave faces, it just brings me back to when I was taking care of my parents.

This film is a little different, though. The treatment is mostly internal, guided by a very restrained and effective performance by Riz Ahmed, who plays Ruben, a drummer who loses most of his hearing. In the hands of a less imaginative actor, I can just imagine the histrionics one could have used for this role, but Ahmed’s sensitive portrayal cuts deeper. Plus, the film’s imaginative sound design takes you immediately to what he is going through – how sound is suddenly muffled to how surgery enables him to hear again, albeit on a very different scale than what he (and all of us) are used to. I wish the characters were not as underwritten, but Ahmed’s performance makes this film worth watching.

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