Dan Holford’s review published on Letterboxd:
“It’s not something to fix.”
What a powerful film. Somehow managing to feel soft and serene but also hard hitting and emotionally devastating. The film really gets the focus and horror of losing one of those major senses, devastating and life changing to anyone, let alone someone who’s life revolves around their music. The desperation to cling onto something that might never come back is at the focus of the film. Almost played out like an addiction that had to be overcome and accepted.
Ruben is a complex character. A drummer in his two piece band, with Lou, his girlfriend. An ex drug addict, who suddenly starts to lose his hearing. The film takes a look at how this affects his life, and how someone like Ruben struggles with the acceptance of this sudden alteration to their life. It’s brilliantly paced, slow but every scene feels impactful. While I do think some moments in the final act feel a little rushed it still manages to wrap up the story in a satisfying way.
The directing from Darius Marder is fantastic too, brilliantly shot and always keeping the every scene feeling important and gripping. However, it’s the sound design that really sells this film. It perfectly captures that sense of isolation Ruben is feeling. The way the sound drops in and out throughout the scenes gives the film that extra sense of loneliness. There’s a standout scene with Ruben hitting a metal slide with a deaf child, both of them sensing the sound. It’s a small but powerful moment, brilliantly realised as the camera pans out and reveals the sounds of the slide to be eerily quiet but so loud to the two characters.
Riz Ahmed gives a truly brilliant performance throughout. Truly capturing that total fear, anxiety and the true isolation that someone feels when going through a struggle like this. His performance is soft, almost delicate at times, but full of desperation to try and grasp onto something that is out of his hands. Olivia Cooke is great too. The fear of a daunting girlfriend, the sense of not being able to help the person you live in their time of need so well realised in just a few short scenes.
A gripping drama from the start, showcasing a well realised and complex character suffering from a trauma that could happen to anyone. It doesn’t shy away from the sense of horror and isolation.