Sound means everything in Ruben's life. Starting with friendly jazz as he gets up, it amps up to the intense drumming he does every night with his girlfriend and bandmate Lou in their noise band. When he suddenly goes deaf, it unbalances their precarious, nomadic rock life. Who is Ruben if what his identity rests on is gone? And will he be able to stay clean now his musical means of release is no more?
Debuting director Darius Marder, who co-wrote Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines, immerses us entirely in Ruben's struggles. The incisive sound design for Sound of Metal again underscores how much cinema depends on sound. Depicting Ruben's dilemma – miracle-cure cochlear implant or accepting his fate – is always underpinned by emotion.