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The Sound Of Metal Is Manoj Kumar’s SHOR Reloaded

The Sound Of Metal(Amazon Prime)

Starring  Riz Ahmed as Ruben Stone,Olivia Cooke as Lou,Paul Raci as Joe,Lauren Ridloff as Diane,MathieuAmalric as Richard Berger

Directed  by Darius Marder

Rating: ** ½ 

 First things first. Riz Ahmed is  a force  of nature  as  a drummer named Ruben  suddenly gone  deaf. But  why is a Pakistani British  actor  playing an American drummer?  If there are  objections raised at  the  brilliant ViggoMortensen  playing a gay character  in Falling ,  then why are  actors of  Asian origin being cast as British  and American characters(Dev Patel as  David Copperfield, now  Riz as an American  drummer, what next PriyankaChopra as Michelle Obama?).

More importantly why not cast a deaf actor in the role? I ask this because the  film is populated with actors suffering from  hearing disability  including Lauren  Ridloff who appears as  Diane possible love interest  for  our raging  deaf hero at a healing centre  for  the aurally impaired.Like  much else  in the  film, the relationship between  Diane and Ruben remains half-formed, obfuscated and tangled in  ambiguities.

 Once  Ruben goes  deaf suddenly (after  a horridly noisy concert  performance  with his musical and life partner  Lou played  by the talented Olivia Cooke)  the film gets as  confused about its identity and  priorities as  its protagonist. From here onwards Ruben rages and rants at destiny as well as those around him. In one sequences he crushes a donut on a table  and  beats  it to a pulp. This,  I  suppose, is his way of expressing his   anger and  resentment.  But it doesn’t help him. And  it certainly doesn’t help the donut either.

Adding to his  woes is his girlfriend who  decides to leave  him at  the doorsteps of a healing centre and flees, like  an unwed mother leaving a child at an orphanage.  We then have  Ruben in long  boring conversations with  an inmate  named  Joe(Paul Raci) who dishes  out gyan about  coping  with disability as if he was some kind of  a seer from la la land.

Ruben rages out of therapy(maybe it’s  the quality of  the donuts)  gets expensive audio surgery  done  and  has his hearing partially  restored. But he soon realizes  that the world has moved on and so has his girlfriend(whom we know we  can’t trust, not after she dumps him right in the middle of  his crisis). Ruben realizes he  prefers  his world of  silence.

Hey, Manoj Kumar got there  48 years  ago   in  Shor.  What sets  Sound Of Metal apart is its grating sound design. We  hear the world as Ruben hears  it after his deafness and we hear it as normal people do. The  schizophrenic sound design may  be an attempt at realism.  But  it  actually comes across as plainly  annoying and grating.

 If the truth be  told, Riz Ahmed is the only reason to watch this disappointing film. And if you can bear him with blonde hair, indeterminate accent  and  fits of anger,you are welcome to  sit through what is  essentially a one-line story. What  if you lose  your world  in one moment?

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