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Sound of Metal Reflection

Lilah's picture

I really enjoyed watching The Sound of Metal for many different reasons, but I think the strongest part that stood out to me was Ruben's emotions and feelings surrounding his deafness, especially at the beginning of the film. When he was first starting to realize his hearing was decreasing, It felt like I was feeling everything he was feeling. A major part of the film that promotes that happening is the sound editing because it really tries to put you into the shoes of someone who's deaf. Obviously, as someone who has never experienced deafness, I cannot truly understand what It would actually feel like to become deaf. However, I do think the film and Riz Ahmed, who plays Ruben, do an extraordinary job of making the audience, especially those who are hearing, understand and empathize with Ruben's experience as much as possible. I'd have to do more research on the film, but I would like to believe that the filmmakers worked very closely with deaf people in order to make the film as accurate as possible and to include necessary parts of deaf culture. 

The process of how Ruben adapts to deafness was really interesting to watch. It didn't feel like a linear process because it felt like there was a jump in time from when he started the rehab program to be much more involved in the community. We see him having fun with deaf children, signing to them, and interacting with his rehab community much more fluidly. Overall, I was sort of getting the impression that Ruben was finally starting to because more at peace with being deaf. Because of this, it was very disheartening to see him sneak into Joe's office so many times, breaking his trust, and planning to get the cochlear implant surgery all along. It's clear he still viewed deafness as something he desperately needed to cure. 

When Joe told Ruben he could no longer stay at the rehab center, it was definitely a difficult scene to watch. We had just seen Ruben post-surgery learning that his hearing would never be the way it was prior to becoming deaf. He sold everything he had because he was convinced getting the surgery was the only way to be pleased with his life. However, when Joe told Ruben that the reason he can longer be in the community was that he couldn't stop viewing deafness as something he needed to fix at that moment in time. When Joe started crying after Ruben left, I really empathized with him. It was clearly such a hard decision for him to make because he could see Ruben struggling right in front of him asking for help, and he couldn't provide it for him so he could protect his community. 

Lastly, I found the final scene to be really moving. After everything he went through to get the cochlear implants, thinking it was going to improve his life so much more, he finally gets that moment of stillness he had been working towards while he was at the rehab center. I thought the message behind this was really well thought out and seemed to fit in well with disability studies. We've talked a lot about the societal and medicalized pressure to "cure" your disability as much as possible. But there is something so powerful about finding stillness within and acceptance for your disability, just like Ruben seemed to have just done after the entire length of the film. Even though it took him some time, it seemed like he was able to find the beauty within deafness rather than constantly seeing it as something he needs to urgently fix.