I sat delighted on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next clip, the rap music throbbing from the screen, still propelling me forward. What beast would the sovereign emerge? But that was just a trailer for the movie and not the movie itself, so a script scribbles on the screen, promising to deliver the goods to theaters near you on March 31, 2021.
It’s Saturday afternoon at the cinema, in a real movie theater. I watch the action on the big screen and discreetly push my mask under my chin to munch on a bag of buttered popcorn. It’s as good as it gets. I was in a sort of paradise, even if it was only for two hours.
The following trailer announces the movie “Sound of Metal”, which I had watched streaming at home from my TV screen. But I didn’t know the real impact of sound design until I saw or rather heard it on the big screen. The loud, crisp sounds of the band’s music reverberate when the drummer’s ears (Riz Ahmed like Ruben) are still working relatively well. But they transform into muffled, indistinct noises, then metal-to-metal screeches as his hearing fades. He looks for cures and tries to rearrange his life until things “get back to normal”. But as we learned from 2020, things aren’t just getting back to normal. They evolve or transform into a “new normal”. And as the film methodically and lovingly takes its time to show, so does Ruben’s life.
Ruben (Ahmed) is a heavy metal drummer and recovering drug addict, and the film takes us on a journey through its stages of denial, anger and acceptance. But watching Chicago actor Paul Raci’s preview scenes as the head of a Deaf Community Salvage House caused a visceral reaction in me. Raci communicates through sign language, and the captions appear on screen as a translation for the audience. When he is seated with other people who cannot hear, the film is silent. It’s enhanced on the big movie screen in a way that wasn’t as dramatic when I watched it at home. Raci’s face is lively and serious, and the sounds, both distorted and the sound of silence, frame his actions. Raci received an Academy Award nomination for Supporting Actor, and watching his craggy demeanor in the trailer reminds us why. Each of his gestures in the film is filled with such empathetic authenticity that it vibrates enough.