Ruben is a heavy metal drummer who is about to have his life changed forever as he begins to lose his hearing. He is one half of the Blackgammon duo along with his girlfriend Lou who is the singer. They live and travel around the US in an RV to perform gigs.
He had begun to notice that his hearing was not anywhere near as good as it used to be and just put it down to the gigs that they were doing and the lifestyle choices taking its toll over the years. When Ruben goes to a pharmacy seeking some help he is instantly referred to a doctor who completes a hearing test to find out he can only make out 20-30% of the words and his hearing will continue to rapidly deteriorate until he is fully deaf. A cochlear implant is an option but expensive and not covered by his insurance. He is advised to stay away from loud noises, but continues to perform in the band.
When Lou eventually finds out about his condition she wants him to stop performing for his own safety and they call his sponsor Hector, as Ruben is a recovering drug addict. He is then sent to a rural shelter for deaf recovering addicts ran by Joe, a recovering alcoholic who lost his hearing in Vietnam. It is going to be a very tough journey for Ruben as he has to be alone and live within the shelter.
The community of the deaf people all embrace being deaf and do not see it as a handicap, as part of his process of being in with them Ruben begins to learn American Sign Language and works out groups of children. The big struggle for him is not being able to see Lou and feeling as though she has forgotten about him rather quickly. When he makes a big decision to sell everything he owns to get the implants he then must leave the community.
Sometimes though things don’t work out how you would expect and that is what Ruben will learn with the implants, they don’t bring his hearing fully back to what it was before and it really is not the same for music and even everyday sounds.
That was such a powerful moment and throughout the film I was super impressed with how amazing the sound editing and mixing was, really allowing us as the viewer to hear how things sounded for Ruben. How the sensation of losing his hearing sounded and allowed us to experience it with him, which I personally felt made the film and story so powerful. Also highlighting that if you feel you have a problem or issue with something health related that you should do something very quickly in an attempt to receive help.
I thought Riz Ahmed’s leading performance was utterly fantastic and everything good about the film and the powerful nature of it came from him. It’s very easy to understand just why a lot of talk is surrounding him from the film. He was given so many scenes that were just heartbreaking and carried them off in the best possible manner.