January 7, 2021 – A heavy metal drummer loses his hearing, and his way of life in this heavy drama about love and loss.
The drummer, Ruben (played by Riz Ahmed of “Four Lions”) is living with his singer-guitarist girlfriend, Lou (Olivia Cooke of “Ready Player One”) in a motor home on a musical tour, when he suddenly loses his hearing.
Ruben is in denial at first, thinking he can continue the tour, but Lou insists that he go to a special retreat for deaf drug addicts. Ruben wants to get cochlear implants to restore his hearing, but the operation is too expensive for him to afford. He ends up reluctantly going to the retreat.
After months of rehabilitation, he learns sign language and becomes a valued member of the deaf community he has joined. He is offered a job by Joe (Paul Raci of “Goliath”) who runs the retreat, but Ruben still wants his hearing, and his old life back.
Ruben decides to sell his motor home, his drums and the rest of his musical equipment in order to raise the money for his cochlear implant surgery. Joe kicks Ruben out when he finds out that Ruben “betrayed” him by getting the implants. It appears that Ruben's betrayal consists of him thinking of deafness as a handicap.
Ruben travels to visit Lou, who is now living with her father, Richard Berger, (Mathieu Amalric of “Quantum of Solace”). It turns out that Richard, who didn't like Ruben when they first met, has now realized that he has been a positive influence on Lou.
Lou, it turns out had a lot of emotional problems relating to the death of her mother. Ruben had problems with drug addiction and she helped him get clean. While Lou and Ruben essentially healed each other, both of them have moved on while they were separated. Both of them have changed, emotionally.
Ruben has also changed a lot from his time at the retreat. Ruben realizes that he has reached a crossroads in his life. Maybe he can't go back to the life he once had, and he has burned his bridges with Joe at the retreat. The level of hearing that Ruben has with the cochlear implants is considerably less than what he had hoped for. What will he do now?
Riz Ahmed, Paul Raci and Olivia Cooke all give strong performances in this drama. The film's use of sound to demonstrate Ruben's hearing loss is also quite effective. Less effective is the explanation for Joe's feelings of betrayal. Apparently, some in the deaf community really do think that cochlear implants threaten them. I don't get that, and the film doesn't explain it.
This movie asks me to accept Joe's sense of betrayal, and Lou's change of heart, but the movie does not convince me to accept these reactions. The only sense of emotional continuity that seems believable to me in the film is Ruben's emotional journey. That journey alone is enough for me to give this film a C+ rating.
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