How easy is it to assume that many of us take our hearing for granted? Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke already look to be putting in a great performance with Sound of Metal as the whole idea of a drummer going deaf is a uniquely terrifying and disheartening situation for someone that sees their music as life and as a huge part of their existence, since not being able to hear the rest of the music would be a certain type of hell that would consume a person very quickly as despair would no doubt settle into a person’s psyche and make it nearly impossible for them to continue. Understanding just what a person’s hearing means is hard to do until someone starts to lose it, and admitting that the lifestyle you lead is a big reason why it’s happening, or could at least be a factor, is likely a hard pill to swallow. Many people warn about the damage that can be done to a person’s hearing by listening to music that’s too loud, or not taking care of their hearing in a proper manner, but sometimes even that isn’t enough, as many musicians have suffered partial to total hearing loss over the years due to the continued assault to their eardrums. It’s not something that’s guaranteed to happen, but constant exposure is enough to make it happen.
While not everyone suffers from the effects, there are those who are more susceptible and are therefore more prone to suffer the kind of damage to their hearing that’s unfortunately irreversible. In Ruben’s case, it could be a cumulative effect or it could be due to something else along with the hard rock he and his girlfriend have been engaged in for so long, but the point is, a musician that loses their hearing and can’t find a way to cope or work around it isn’t exactly bound to retain the same skill set that they took for granted when they could hear everything around them. It’s seen that Ruben attempts to keep things going by being able to keep eye contact with his girlfriend, played by Cooke, but even this apparently isn’t enough, which prompts his stay with a deaf community where he eventually appears to learn how to deal with his hearing loss in other ways as the love of the music doesn’t fade, but a greater understanding starts to take place as he learns how to get around the idea of not being able to do what he loves. The idea of seeing the world in a different way once we lose one of our senses is often terrifying to many people since we rely so heavily on sensory perception and what those senses tell us. The moment we lose one sense, many people tend to feel despair as the world becomes a more uncertain place. It often takes a great deal of work and understanding, but one can still experience a rather full life without one sense, especially if they learn how to rely on their other senses in lieu of the one.
If the truth is being told, we hamper ourselves by relying on only one or two senses at a time. This movie is bound to show that when using our senses there are more ways to utilize them than many people tend to use. Music for instance can be felt through the different vibrations that emanate during performances, much as some people might already know. There are aspects of music that might escape those that can’t hear, but the general feel, the sensation, and everything that tends to make up the core of a musical piece can actually be felt through the different vibrations that each song gives off, while everything else that comes with it might be understood through memory or even a description that can be given by someone nearby or by captions on a TV screen. Part of the movie appears to be showing how Ruben will learn to escape the overriding noises and bustle of the world that has been denied to him by his encroaching condition, but will somehow gain peace of mind and a realization that he can still enjoy the music in another way that will begin to make sense the more he allows himself to fall into it.
There are many professions that rely heavily on the senses that we take for granted so often, and what might happen if we lose those senses is indeed unnerving to think about. Sound of Metal will be coming out in November after being delayed from an August release thanks to the coronavirus, and it’s easy to think that many people could learn yet another lesson in life from this story. Our senses are precious, but they’re far more versatile than we might think.