For this episode of Carolyn Talks… I had the pleasure of speaking with Darius Marder, director and co-writer of Sound of Metal about how he, his co-writer Abraham Marder, sound editor, and composer Nicholas Becker and their teams created one of the most unique cinematic auditory experiences I’ve ever had. As a viewer, critic, and disabled person experiencing slow hearing loss, it meant so much to have the opportunity to speak with Marder about the great acting by Olivia Cooke, and Paul Raci – whose characters Lou and Joe provide the necessary emotional support, and introduction to the deaf culture for Ruben, and about how sound is used tell a story of loss, acceptance and gaining new perspectives on the way we live in a world filled with noise.
The memory and experience of sound is something many of us never really think about from an emotional perspective. When it comes to emotional connections to our senses smell and taste are the ones that usually generate a deep and visceral connection, but in Sound of Metal, it’s sound and the loss of the ability to hear it that sends heavy metal drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) on an emotional journey to discover who he can be without it.
As Ruben, Ahmed gives a performance that anyone living with a disability can relate to. His anguish, frustration, and fear are palpable. His inability to voice exactly what he was feeling is something I myself am familiar with. Living with a chronic condition is difficult, living with one that could and may ultimately take away my hearing is scary, and I saw that fear in Ruben. But more than just his fear touched me. It was the way the presence and absence of sound, Ruben’s memory of it, and how it’s used throughout the film that makes me think about my disability and what sounds means to me in different ways. Those moments where the world suddenly becomes audibly distorted and silent are disconcerting and disorienting. To have a world filled with speech, car horns, water dripping suddenly go silent creates a multitude of emotional and mental reactions. Your body goes still as it tries to adjust to this rapid change, but before you’re able to figure out how to react, the noise returns just as suddenly as it vanished.
Sound of Metal is currently streaming internationally on Amazon PrimeVideo.
You can read a review of Sound of Metal by ButWhyTho Editor-in-Chief Kate Sanchez here.
Darius Marder is a writer and director making his narrative feature directorial debut with Sound of Metal. His film Loot was awarded the Best Documentary Feature prize at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival, received five Cinema Eye Honors Award nominations and earned Marder an Independent Spirit Award nomination in the Truer Than Fiction category. Marder then co-wrote The Place Beyond the Pines with Derek Cianfrance and Ben Coccio. The original screenplay won the trio a PEN Literary Award in 2014. The following year Marder and Cianfrance co-adapted S.C. Gwynne’s Pulitzer Prize finalist Empire of the Summer Moon for Warner Bros. The film will go into production in 2021 with Cianfrance directing.
Carolyn is a Freelance Film Critic, Journalist, and Podcaster – and avid live tweeter. Member of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), her published work can be found on But Why Tho, The Beat, Observer, and many other sites. As a critic, she believes her personal experiences and outlook on life, give readers and listeners a different perspective they can appreciate.