Duration: 2 Hrs. 10 mins
Language: English, American Sign Language
Director: Darius Marder
Writers: Darius Marder, Abraham Marder, Derek Cianfrance
Producers: Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Bill Benz, Kathy Benz
Music: Nicolas Becker, Abraham Marder
Cinematography: Daniël Bouqet
Editing: Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
Art Direction: Gert Stas
Release Date: 06 September 2019 (TIFF), 20 November 2020 (United States)
Released On: Amazon Studios
Star Cast: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, Mathieu Amalric
Ruben is a drummer and one half of the duo Blackgammon, along with his singer girlfriend Lou. A former drug addict, he is sober for four years. Suddenly, he begins to lose his hearing. His sponsor makes him go meet Joe, who leads a deaf community. With the help from them, Ruben struggles to accept his situation.
In this rock drama - Sound of Metal, Ruben (Ahmed) and Lou (Cooke) make up Blackgammon - one of those kinds of duos in some basement club blasting out mind numbingly loud music. But then it gets silent! What happens to Ruben is shocking and over whelming - his hearing is just giving out. The doctor he sees explains that this is sudden, catastrophic and he will probably lose his ability to listen altogether in days, maybe weeks.
What strikes a little different in this film is when Lou checks him into a rehab attached to a school for the deaf, terrified he will turn back to his old heroin habit, he doesn't rebel. Instead he knows it is over, even if the vague promise of expensive restorative surgery is hard for him to believe.
Ahmed took drumming lessons for six months to prepare for his role in ‘Sound of Metal’ and also learned American Sign Language. The project was shot in only four weeks. Dakota Johnson and Matthias Schoenaerts were originally cast in the lead roles, until scheduling conflicts brought Ahmed and Cooke onto the project and we are very glad!
The supporting cast also includes Lauren Ridloff and Mathieu Amalric who fits perfectly to their parts.
Documentary and music video camera genius Daniël Bouquet combines his two interests to give the film a naturalistic, easy feel, but everything is being hold together by the sound design. Director Darius Marder (who wrote the script with his brother, composer Abraham Marder, from a story by Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance) does not terminate the sound all the way down. He plays with the sound in such a way that the audience can hear simple noises like woodland chatter, or feet on gravel, but Ruben can't. In a film that centres on personal loss, the audience lives the journey with Ruben in his unbecoming and becoming.
What adds to the sound design is Ahmed's performance of a man desperately avoiding self-destruction. He is staring at losing the one part of his life that is been a constant and he seems desperate to not lose it or regain it. The desperation, frustration, anger, sorrow has been captured perfectly. The movie about the journey of accepting loss is painful, sobering, and bitter sweet and worth a watch.
Milestones of Film:
- The film had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival on September 06, 2019 in the Platform Prize program.
- The film won the Golden Eye for Best Film in the International Feature Film Competition category at the 15th Zurich Film Festival.
- It was also screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.