I sat rapt at the edge of my seat, waiting for the next clip, the rap music pulsing from the screen, propelling me ever forward. Which beast would emerge the ruler? But this was only a trailer for the movie and not the movie itself, so a script scrawls across the screen, promising to deliver the goods to theaters near you on March 31st, 2021.
This is Saturday afternoon at the movies, in an actual movie theater. I’m watching action on the big screen and pushing my mask down discreetly below my chin to munch on a bag of buttered movie popcorn. This is as good as it gets. I was in some kind of paradise, even if only for two hours.
The next trailer advertises the film “Sound of Metal,” which I had seen at home streamed from my TV monitor. But I didn’t know the real impact of the sound design until I saw it or rather heard it on the big screen. The crisp loud sounds of the band’s music reverberate when the drummer’s ears (Riz Ahmed as Ruben) are still working relatively well. But they turn into dull indistinct noises and then piercingly brash screeches of metal on metal as his hearing is fading away. He searches for remedies and tries to rearrange his life until things “get back to normal.” But as we have learned from 2020, things don’t just go back to normal. They either evolve or devolve into a “new normal.” And as the film methodically and lovingly takes its time showing, so do things in Ruben’s life.
Ruben (Ahmed) is a heavy metal drummer and recovering addict, and the film takes us on a journey through his stages of denial, anger and acceptance. But watching the preview scenes of Chicago actor Paul Raci as the head of a Recovery House for the Deaf community prompted a visceral reaction in me. Raci is communicating by way of sign language, and subtitles appear on the screen as a translation for the hearing. When he is sitting with others who cannot hear the film fades into silence. It is heightened on the big movie screen in a way that was not as dramatic when I was watching it at home. Raci’s face is animated and earnest, and the sounds, both the distorted and the sound of silence, frame his actions. Raci has received an Academy Award nomination for Supporting Actor, and observing his craggy demeanor in the trailer reminds us why. His every gesture in the film is filled with such empathetic authenticity that it fairly vibrates.