Sound of Metal (2019) – Transcript

A heavy-metal drummer's life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.
Sound of Metal (2019)

During a series of adrenaline-fueled one-night gigs, itinerant punk-metal drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) begins to experience intermittent hearing loss. When a specialist tells him his condition will rapidly worsen, he thinks his music career — and with it his life — is over. His bandmate and girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) checks the recovering heroin addict into a secluded sober house for the deaf in hopes it will prevent a relapse and help him learn to adapt to his new situation. But after being welcomed into a community that accepts him just as he is, Ruben has to choose between his equilibrium and the drive to reclaim the life he once knew.

* * *

[sound of guitar feedback]

[distorted guitar]

[audience cheering]

[unintelligible vocals]

[guitar intensifies]

[distant traffic]



[heavy breathing]








Lou, it’s up time.


Up time.



Come on.

Come on, stop that.

We got to get right to it for grizzle.



Yo, I got some smoothie for you.

You’re gonna fuckin’ hate it.

But it’s healthy.

Want some? I wouldn’t recommend it.

It’s disgusting.


[Lou moans]

Okay, poops.

Dance time.



No? Nah? No?



♪ And I would do anything for love ♪

♪ But he won’t do that ♪

What’s the thing that he won’t do in that song?

What’s left for him to not do?


♪ No, no, but I won’t do that ♪

♪ He won’t do that ♪


I used to imagine Jeff Goldblum was my dad.

Saw him in “The (fucking) Fly”, I was like, “That must be what my dad looks like.”

Also explains a lot ’cause the dude’s fucking weird.

But he looks like me, man.

It’s true, yeah.


You kinda look like Jeff Goldblum.

Why is it okay to use a toothpick in public but not floss?

Have you ever tried that?

To floss my teeth in public? No.

To floss in public.

Like you’re just at the dinner table, you just pull out some…

I used to imagine my funeral a lot when I was a kid… …at school in math.


I used to daydream about my funeral.

Then I’d make myself cry!

Uh, yeah, I think I’d get cremated.

What about you?

Cremated… or, like, just fed to the birds, ya know?

Well, you know, now you can get ashes put into tattoo ink.

My face on your back, where the clown is.



♪ Scary clown face ♪

♪ Scary clown face ♪

Yo, we don’t need to, we don’t need to put ’em all out.

I know, but we just need to fill ’em up a little bit.


You want to put out some different ones?


The face of a sale.

Okay, this one costs, uh, 50 bucks extra because…

It’s an original artwork.

I’m gonna spit on.

Okay, a hundred bucks.

Ten grand.

Did you guys sound check?

No, not yet.

We’re going on at…


Did Margaret sound check yet?

Yo, you sound checked yet?


Not looking forward to it.


Half my shit is broken down.


[muffled speaking]

[ringing intensifies]

[loud music]

[music muffles]

[muffled quietness]

[muffled] Ah.

[muffled] Ah.

[muffled] [coughs]

[muffled water]

[muffled whirring]

[muffled quietness]

[muffled speaking]

It’s… it’s probably a two out of ten in terms of his hearing. He can’t…

He’s having trouble even communicating with me.


[muffled speaking]

[muffled speaking]

I gotta see a doctor?

He… He can see you now.


He can see you right now.


Yes, I…

[muffled speaking]

Hey, Lulu. Uh, sorry I had to run out, baby.

I gotta deal with some shit, okay?

Don’t worry about anything, okay?

Mr. Stone?

Oh. Oh, yeah.

[muffled] Ah.

[muffled] Okay, how is that volume?

Is the volume loud enough?


Can you hear me?


You can hear me okay?

Volume wise?

I can hear you.


I’m gonna say these words.

I want you to repeat them back to me.

I’m gonna start with just your right ear.























This is your chart, Ruben.

Now, as far as the volume that you can hear, you… on your right ear were twenty-eight percent, and on your left ear, you were twenty-four percent.

It’s what?

In the left ear, you came in at twenty-four percent.


No matter how… loud I made the test, I could have put it at eleven, you were still going to miss seventy to eighty percent of the words that I said.


That is not good.

Yeah, I see that. So what…

What can we do about it?

How do I get it back?

Well, um…

You have to understand something here.

Whether or not this is related to your exposure to noise or it’s an autoimmune issue doesn’t really matter.

I understand I got a problem. I’m asking you what I can do about it.

Well, what you can do about it first is to eliminate all exposure to loud noises.

And then we can run some tests and we can determine exactly what is going on with your ears.

And if we do, then we can have our other conversations.

We can have what?

Well… there are implants that bypass the cochlea.

You said implants?


Those work?

For people with severe hearing loss or complete deafness, yes, they help.

Well, then let’s do that.

Well… it’s not that simple.

Uh, it’s a very involved process and it’s quite costly.

How much is it?

Well, they can run between forty and eighty thousand dollars depending, and… they are not covered by insurance.


And, um…

Like, when, when can you do it?

You got ’em in stock now?

Mr. Stone, your hearing… is deteriorating rapidly.

Am I right?

And over the next few days, or even hours, it’s going to continue.

And the hearing that you have lost is not coming back.

[muffled] You have to understand your first responsibility is to preserve the hearing you have.

[loud music]


[muffled music]

[muffled sounds]

[panicked breathing]

Ruben, what the fuck?

[muffled speaking]

Yes, it’ll come back.

I have to…

There’s like a surgery.


It’s simple. It’s all it is.

There’s an implant. They put it in your shit.

It’s like a…

Okay, it’ll come back.

It’s fine, Lou.

It’s like forty grand, eighty grand, whatever, but it’s… it’ll come back.

Till then, Lou, we just keep going, okay?




Listen to me.

Let’s play tomorrow, let’s see what it’s like.

Let’s try it, okay?

I’m gonna be like a click track. You can play to me.


Huh? You can adj… It’s different, but it is what it is, Lou.

Lou, we have a t…

Lou, we have a tour booked.

It’s not safe…

We have a tour booked.

We have a tour booked, Lou.


It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.

Yes, we do.

It’s not safe, it’s not safe.

We have a tour booked!


I don’t fuckin’…


You got a smoke, please?


This is ridiculous.

He’s sleeping.

Hi. Hi, Hector?

Hi, this is Lou.

Ruben’s having a bit of… a bit of trouble right now.


Hey, Hector, what’s up?

He’s got some hearing problems.

Yeah, I mean I can put him on, but he won’t be able to hear you.


Talk to him.

Talk to him.

Hey, Hector, what’s going on, man?

It’s Ruben.

I’d say it’s good to hear your voice, but I can’t hear a fuckin’ word you’re saying right now.

So this is completely pointless.

Lou wanted me to call you because I had a cigarette.

Uh… you know… not great, not ideal, but… considering the circumstances, which are pretty fucked up.

You know, understandable.

I’d say understandable, for everyone apart from Lou, it seems.


I got this, bro.

I know you’d probably be asking me if I’m steady right now,

if I’m feeling level.

Not completely, but I’m cool.

You’d tell me serenity is something you get when you, uh, stop wishing for a different past.

Bro, I love you, man.

Oh, my manager wants the phone back, so I gotta go.

Okay, love you, bro.


Yeah, he can’t hear a word.

Well, if you get him to a group, then how is he gonna hear?


Okay, tha… thanks, Hector, thank you.

When? When?

Okay, yeah, I’ll make sure it’s on loud.

Okay, thank you so much, thank you.

Okay, bye.

He’s gonna call back.

What did he say?

Write it down. Tell… What did he…

“Call back.”

He’s gonna call back… that’s all?

Fuckin’ Hector.

What are we gonna do now?

What do you wanna do, Lou?



Fuck this.

[phone vibrating]

It’s Hector.


Yeah, he’s here.

Not so good.



Uh… yeah, what, what, what is it and…


What’s the plan?


Well, we’re, we’re in Missouri, so that’s gonna take a few days. I don’t… I don’t really know.

No, no…

No, we’ll leave right away.

Okay, yeah.

Okay, thank you. Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate it.

Thank you.

No, yeah, I’ll tell him.

Okay. Bye.


He’s found a place.


[low rumble]



Is that him?


Hi, I don’t… I’m sorry, I don’t know that.

I’m Ruben.

This is Lou.

Hi, I’m… I’m Lou.

I’m sorry, I read lips.

My name is Lou.

Lou. I’m Joe.

Hi, Joe.

You mind if I borrow him for a minute?


All right, you mind watching my beast here for me while we have a talk?

Well, okay.

Lou, this is Louie.


He’s my hearing dog.

He let me know you were here.

I named it after Louie Aparicio from the White Sox in ’59.

You want to be best friends with him, give him one of these.

Oh, sure.



Yo, what about…

Lou, you coming?

No, no, you.

You sure?


I won’t be long, okay?


You be a good boy!


Okay. Uh…



Okay. So,

it works.

Is this okay for you?

Yeah, can you hear me?

No. No, I’m gonna read your lips.

I might miss some things, but I’m gonna try, okay?


Just try, try to speak clearly.


How are you, Ruben?

I’m okay.

You’re an addict?


What sort of drugs?

What’d I take?




Mainly heroin.


Have you thought about using since you lost your hearing?

Today is not a good day.

I’m not thinking clear today.

Let’s talk about me.

I’m an alcoholic.

I lost my hearing in the Vietnam War when a bomb exploded near me.

I still remember the music I was listening to when that bomb went off.

After that,

I lost everything else… my wife, my kid.

Not because of being deaf, mind you, Ruben.

It was the beer.

How long you been clean?

Four years.



And you need some help right now?

Yo, I should check on Lou.

How long you two been together?

Four years.

You play music, right?



No, not anymore.

Not until I get the implant.


Yeah. Sorry, you know about these implants they got now?

It’s like… it’s like, uh… they have implants.

I know. Yes.


Yeah, thank you, yes, they are.


You should understand that, uh… this is a Deaf community, not just my program, but we’re part of a larger Deaf community.

And my program, and the people in it, they benefit tremendously from that Deaf community.

We work with them and they work with us.

But… it’s very important, if you want to be here, to understand that we’re looking for a solution to… to this… not this.

Why don’t you go invite Lou in here?



This guy wants to talk to you.


Well… I think it’s important that you stay here with us right now, Ruben, learn some sign language, find some solid ground.

What do you think?

Man, it sounds great, but we don’t have a lot of money right now.

Well, sometimes our church sponsors deaf people in need, and right now, you fit the bill, Ruben.

We’re really not churchgoing people.

Sorry, I… I read…

Sorry, Ruben, I read lips. I can’t…

What’d you say?

We’re not religious, either of us.

Very much not into religion, no offense, you know.

Religion plays no part in this, Ruben.

The church helps people in need, not religious people.

The important thing is that you want to stay here.




Do you think Ruben needs help right now?

You understand, if, uh…

Ruben were to stay here, he’d have to do it on his own.

Members live in a house separate from the outside world.

No contact to the outside world, no phones.

I’ve found that in all cases, that’s the way it works best.

Yo, hold up a minute, okay?

Let me catch up.


Can you help Ruben commit to that, Lou?

You want, you want to try this for a couple days?

We have our own home.

We can stay in the RV.

No, I’m sorry to say, that’s not the way that it works here, Ruben.

Well, that’s a problem, then.

Do you have anywhere you can be during this time, Lou?

Yo, that’s that, man. We’re done.

We’re done.

Thanks a lot for your time, bro.

Appreciate it, okay?

We’re out, baby. Let’s go.



I’m thinking we should still go hit our fuckin’ show in Dayton.

Okay? I can, I can fuckin’ watch you for cues.

I know it was rocky last time but we did… we weren’t on the same page.

Now you know what’s up, I can fuckin’ watch you.

And I know this shit inside out.

Okay, yo. I can fuckin’ make it work until we have enough for surgery.

Okay? We’re gonna get there.

Yo, seriously, we’re good to go.



Hey, I’ll deal with this shit.

I’ll deal with it.

You know I fucking will. It’s just money.

You know that, right?


Come here.


[loud banging]




Stop it!



Lou, look at me, I’m not going back to that fuckin’ place, okay?

I know.

I know. I’m…

Well, then fuckin’ support me.

How’s about that? Fuckin’ support me, Lou.


You don’t want to be here?

Of course I do.

I knew it. I fuckin’ knew it.

I fuckin’ knew this was coming.

I fuckin’ knew it.

This is about the fuckin’ album, huh?

What happened? You get a better offer?

What are you talking about?


What are you saying?

I can’t hear, I can’t hear you. I can’t fucking hear you!

Do you understand me? I can’t, I’m fuckin’ deaf.

I’m fucking deaf!

No fucking hearing!



No, what I need, what I need is a fucking gun in my mouth.

What I need is a fucking gun in my fucking mouth!


Look, I’m sorry.

Lou, I’m just fucked up a little.

I just need a little… I need a minute to think.


[phone ringing]

There’s gotta be another way.




Oh, really?


Who is that?

Okay, well, I need to get ready. Okay.

No, I’ll get a cab.

Yeah, it’s fine.

Okay, bye.

What’s going on?


What’s going on?

I’m getting on a plane and you’re gonna go back to that place.

Just slow down, okay?

Slow down!

Yo, chill dude, we’re gonna be a minute.

Just chill. Okay?

Just slow down a minute.


Lou. This is so fucked up.

Who’s gonna be looking out for you over there?


Who’s gonna look out for you?

It’s okay.

Don’t say that guy.

It’s okay. It’s okay.

Lou, I need, I need more of a plan, Lou.


I need… I need more from you, Lou.

I need more of a plan, Lou.

You can’t just fuckin’…

Ah, Jesus.

Lou, come on.



You hurt yourself…

Ruben. You hurt yourself,

you hurt me.

I’ll hurt myself, too.

I’ll hurt myself, too.

Don’t say that.


Say it, Rubi, or all of this is for shit.

Say it! Promise!

Go back there right now.

Promise, say it!

I’ll promise if you…

No, say it, promise.

Go back to that place.

I, only if, I need…

I need you to wait for me.

Okay? You’re it for me, Lou. You’re my fuckin’ heart.

You’re it for me.

Okay? You gotta wait for me.


Listen to me, listen, listen.

When you get there, I need you to,

I need you to write to me, okay?

Yeah? Will you write me

and tell me you’re okay?

Huh? Promise me?

And listen, if it’s…

If it’s bullshit, you just get your ass back here.

I’ll fix it, I swear to God.

You know I’ll fuckin’ fix this.

This is not that hard, okay?

Just come back here.

I love you.

You’re my fucking heart.



Oh, motherf…






What’s up?



You want my car keys?

If I ask for ’em back,

I want ’em back, okay?

We’re not doing that.

Your name.

My name’s Ruben.

I’m an addict.

I have four years clean now.

I’m sorry I don’t…

talk sign language.

That’s it.

[muffled vibrations]

[loud eating and banging]

[muffled noises]




[muffled quietness]

[children playing]



Um… I don’t…




[children giggling]

[children groaning]






Uh, I’m coming.

Okay? One minute.

I’ll be back.

Oh, hey, Joe.

What was that all about, Ruben?

Oh, with your roof?

I was fixing your roof.

It’s like, one of the eaves is…

I was trying to fix your roof.

You don’t need to fix

anything here.


I’ve got a little, uh…

assignment for ya.


You get up early, right?

Yeah, pretty early, yeah.

I’ll have hot coffee

waiting for you

at 5:30.

Early enough for you?

I don’t know. I guess.

Okay, 5:00.

And I’ll, uh,

provide a room for you.

What for?

And there’s nothing that needs to be accomplished in this room.

All I want you to do is just…


All I ask

is if and when you cannot just sit,

you turn yourself to the

pen and paper

that I’m gonna supply for you.

And I want you to…


Doesn’t matter what you write, how you write,

whether it’s spelled correctly.

Or if it’s just a big… [blows raspberry]


I don’t care.

No one will read it, okay?

But I want you to keep writing

continuously without stopping

until you feel like you can…

sit again.

Does it have to be writing?

Writing, yes. No drawing.

Writing, yes.

And if…

…sometime in the future,

it feels like it’s a little bit too difficult for you,

you should come and find me.

I’ll be in my apartment

doing the same thing as you, okay, Ruben?

I’ll be writing, too.





Mmm, nice.

Nice, nice, nice.

So fuckin’ stupid.

It’s so fuckin’ stupid.

You fuckin’ idiot.

I’m a fuckin’ idiot.

[muffled hip-hop]

[muffled tapping]




You think he’s okay?

You okay?


Not feeling better? Come on over.

Look at those flowers.

He’s quick.

Alright, come here, my friend.

See, I knew he had it.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G,

H, I, J, K, L, M, N…

R, S, T, U, V,

W, X, Y, Z.

He won.

-No, no, he won. -It was close.

No, he won. You can go again if you want to.

Again! Again! Again! Again!

A, B, C, D,

G, H, I, J, K, L,

T, U, V,

O, Q…

R, S, T, U, V, W,

X, Y, Z.



Good job! You did it!

No, I thought…

I thought you said you were smart.

But your wife and your daughter are better, right?


He knows!

He already knows.

I don’t like it completely shaved.

I prefer it with a little hair.

Whoa, not too much.

Natural, got it.

Trimmed and all, ya know?


Who is she?

Okay, okay.

Where do you want it?

Right here.

I like it.

Cool. Thank you.

My bad.

Watch me.


I feel a little bit old today.

You are old.

[laughs] Yeah.

I love your name sign…


That first day you were here

you reminded me of an owl.



Fuck you.

And you’ve become very important

to a lot of people around here.

You know?

It’s true.

Thank you.

I’d like to offer you a…

…a way that

maybe you can continue on here

with us.

I imagine you’re starting

to think about the future

a little bit?



I know I am.

But, uh…

I do think there’s a way

you could maybe stay and work here,

maybe with my program,


…with the kids at school.

Maybe both.


you, uh…

you think about it, you know?

What the fuck?

[muffled vibrations]

[fast drumming]




Yeah. Cute.

What do you think, huh?

Yo, what do you think?



Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

Wait, yo, it’s easy.

It’s easy. Just…


Yo… …It’s for her, huh?

It’s for her.

We need money.

We need money.

Huh? It’s for us.

I’m leveling with you.

It’s for her.

Yo. For this… for this?

For this,

remember it’s, uh… it’s, uh…

cash. Okay? Not check.



You okay?


Hi, is that Prince Audiology?

Can you hear me?

It’s Stone, Ruben Stone.


Stone, S-T-O-N-E.

I’m confirming an appointment.

Yeah, I can hold.

[piano muffles]

So, listen.

What did you say? Write it down.

Yeah, yeah.

I can’t hear you. Write it down.

I got a proposition for you.

What’s that?

What if I give it to you at this price…

…but on one condition.

I have the option of coming back to you

within eight weeks.


I get to buy it back off you for ten percent more than this.

But everything has to be in its current condition.

Everything has to be exactly like it is now.


What do you think?

Why would you want to do that?

Dude, I can’t hear you. I’m deaf.

So… It’s… take it or leave it.

What’s it gonna be?

[low rumble]

[drill whirring]


You’re back?

Have a seat here.

Thank you.


…I did the deed.

The deed?


How’d you get the money?

I sold my RV

and other shit.


Look, Joe,

I really

don’t want to explain myself right now.


It’s time. Okay?

It’s time. I gotta do something.


Trying to save my f…

fuckin’ life.

So, that’s what I’m doing.

Okay? No one else is gonna save my life.


If I just sit here and diddle around,

what am I gonna have? Nothing.


And all this shit? Like, what does it matter? What does it matter?

It just passes.


If I disappear,

like, who cares?

Nobody cares, man.


Yo, and that’s okay.

That’s life.

That’s life.

No, for real. Okay?

It just passes.

It just fuckin’…

fucking passes.

I wonder, uh…

all these mornings you’ve been sitting in my study,


have you…

had any…

moments of…


Because you’re right, Ruben,

the world does keep moving,

and it can be a damn…

…cruel place.

But for me…

those moments of…


that place,

that’s the…

…kingdom of God.

And that place

will never abandon you.


I see you’ve made your




And I sincerely hope

that it brings you happiness, Ruben.

Thank you.

I was wondering, Joe.

I don’t know if it’s possible,

but, uh…

I need money,

to, uh…

just to buy back my RV.

You know?

You know, me… me and Lou.

This is where we live.

It’s our home. Our home.

And I can…

I can totally pay you back.

Just, uh…

Now I got an issue with time.


I don’t understand the situation that you’ve put yourself in.


from where I’m sitting…

you look

and sound

like an addict.

No, I don’t.

Yo, no.

I’m not…

It’s not…

Not an addi…

It’s fine. Okay?

My situation,

it’s cool.


Seriously, my girlfriend’s dad is rich,

he can give me… give me the money.

Okay? This is nothing.

You can’t imagine how nothing this is.


I’m fucking stupid…

I’m… I’m sorry to ask.

I’m sorry.



Please can I stay here for just…

three, four weeks?

Till they…



As you know,

everybody here

shares in the belief that

being deaf is not a handicap.

Not something to fix.

It’s pretty important around here.

All these kids…

all of us,

need to be reminded of it

every day.

And my house

is a house built on that belief,

and built on trust.

And when that trust is violated,

things happen.

And I can’t have that.

There are too many others

to consider.

And so,

in your current state,

at this time,

I’m going to have to ask you to pack up your bags, today,

and find another place to be, Ruben.






Are you ready?


Here we go.


[distorted] Can you hear me?

Say again.

Can you hear me?


How does it sound?

Uh, sounds weird.

Okay, well, let’s try

making an adjustment.

How about now? How’s that?

Oh, that’s bad.


It’s… bad.

Do you want to describe what you’re hearing?

It’s, um…

It’s like…

…high. High.


Can you change the…

Well, I can try and make

another adjustment.

How’s that?


Ruben, this is not sound like you remember,

and it’s the implants

in your head that’s

tricking your brain

into thinking that you’re

actually hearing,


in reality your ears

aren’t working still.

So, uh,

I would suggest that you

take it easy

for the next few weeks and…


get adjusted to…

how things sound.

And just…

…take your time.


[distorted ambulance siren]

[distorted bells, bikes, traffic]

[distorted bell ringing]

[distorted]: Oui?


Yeah, hi, is that, um…

Is, is Lou there?

Hein? C’est qui?

Who… who is this?

This is Ruben.


It’s Ruben.




Bonjour, uh…?


Come in.

You are hungry, Ruben?


Uh, Louise is not here.

Uh, you are hearing?

Y… You are hearing?


I… I had an operation.

Wow! Yes?

Oh! What is this?

Oh, that’s very good.

Louise told me your wish for this.


And so, uh…

So, you’re back to your drums now?

Uh, not yet.

I gotta, I gotta, um,

I gotta deal with some stuff first,

you know?

Just gotta…

gotta settle some things.

Yes, settle…

…like what?

You know, just like

getting back into it

and also some financial stuff.


You know, I just gotta figure it all out.



And Louise knows that you’re here?

No. No.

So, it’s a big surprise, oui?

Well, Louise has been

quite busy, you know?


We’re doing a party, so…

…she’ll be back home tonight, that’s

most certainly.

Oh, you want…

I’m going to make you some eggs.

Oh, no, I’m good.

Do you need any help with any of this?

No, no.

You need some eggs.


Where did you grow, Ruben?

Where did I grow up?



like, all over.

You know, Texas, California,

Arizona, Virginia.

Yeah. All over.

Why so many places?

It was…

like, uh…

my mom was a nurse in the military.


You know.

So she kept moving around.

And your father, too?


I mean, I don’t know.

I see.

Uh, I must be honest, I…

did not always have good feelings

for you, Ruben,

all these years.

I confide it is like if one…

had stolen something…


You understand?

But I know it’s not you that took

Louise from me.

Her mother did that.

She took Louise when she left me.

And she took her again

when she killed herself.

And Louise must have come back home then,

but she was hating me so much.

What could I do?

And you…


Well, you gave her a place to go.

Then, and…

…this is a good thing.

Don’t you see, I didn’t like you much at the time,

but now I thank you.

I want to say to you that.

But anyhow,

you’re gonna be so happy to see

how Louise

is going great now.

And that’s the most important.

Isn’t it?



[window opening]




Can you hear me?

Yeah. Loud and clear.

Oh, look at you, Lulu.

Holy shit.

Look at you, huh?


You look different.

Whoa, no scratching, huh?

Oh, yeah.

That’s good.

Does it feel weird?

Yeah. Does it look weird?


No, it doesn’t. It looks really neat.


So crazy.


How’d you do it?

Just worked some magic.

I have to talk to you about it.

I had to just move some things around.

Louise, tu desends?


Did Richard tell you about this party thing tonight?

Oh, shit, yeah.

Yeah, I just have to go and sort some things out.

No, it’s great. It’s cool.


Go do your thing.


Do you need anything?

No, I’m good.

I’ll just be downstairs.

[distorted party chatter]


Ruben, mon petite ami.

What’s up?

Come again?

How are you?

How are you?

Did you get some food?


Get some food?


I would like to make a wish.

I would like my daughter to sing a little song with me.

Papa, no.

This is my right… It’s my birthday!



Some of you knew

Louise’s mother,

and know that I wrote songs for her…


And this was your favorite when you were little.

Do you remember?

[music distorts]

[distorted applause]


You okay?



Um, sorry.

I just need some water.

Are you okay?



Yeah, it’s just a little dry in here.

Hey, that was, uh…

pretty cool tonight.

You sounded fuckin’ great.

Yeah, right.


You’re telling me you weren’t feeling it?

You were in it.

Well, yeah, well, that’s…

Straight up, you sounded amazing singing like that.

It’s my dad’s stuff, but…

And you’re speaking French now?

Oh, my God, barely.

I didn’t know you could do that.

Well, I’ve mostly forgotten, but…

it’s coming back a little.

Yeah, I was thinking, like, do you remember,

you remember this place at all?

I didn’t, but…

…so disconcerting the things that your memory holds onto without you knowing.

I don’t know, my… my mom and I never really talked about this place.

It was always some weird, dreamy idea, but… I mean… now it’s come back a little.



I told everyone about our little gypsy life together.

I miss it.

We gotta get back into it.

You know? We gotta get back on it, we gotta get back in the fuckin’…

in the groove, huh?

Don’t you think?

I gotta go get the Airstream sorted.

What do you mean sorted?

I just, I just got a shit ton of things to do.

You know?


Like with the tour and stuff?

Yeah, the fuckin’ tour, everything.


Like, we just gotta get back on it, you know, everything,


the album, the tour…

…the, the… …you know?



It’s okay, Lou.


It’s okay.

What’s okay?

You saved my life.

You made it…

you made it beautiful.

So it’s okay.


Why are you saying this?

You saved my life, too, Rubi.

[distorted street noise]

[distorted people and traffic]

[distorted church bells]


* * *


Ruben is a drummer and one half of the metal duo Blackgammon along with the singer, his girlfriend, Lou. They live in a RV while driving across the country to perform gigs. Ruben begins to suddenly lose his hearing. He goes to a pharmacy in order to figure out what is happening to him. The pharmacist refers him to a doctor that Ruben is able to see immediately. The doctor performs a hearing test and determines Ruben can only successfully hear 20-30 percent of words and his hearing will continue to deteriorate rapidly. He may be able to get cochlear implants to correct it. However, the implants are very expensive and are not covered by insurance. The doctor suggests that Ruben must first eliminate all exposure to loud noises and after some time undergo further testing. In spite of this Ruben continues to perform.

Lou finds out what is going on and wants to stop performing for Ruben’s sake and safety, but Ruben wants to continue. She is also concerned about his sobriety, as he is a recovering drug addict. They call his narcotics anonymous sponsor, Hector. Hector finds a place for deaf recovering addicts that accepts Ruben. It is a rural community run by a man named Joe, a recovering alcoholic who lost his hearing in the Vietnam War. Ruben leaves with Lou because they will not let her live there with him and he is only concerned with getting the implant. Lou leaves and gets Ruben to go back to the community, as her main concern is his well-being.

Now back at Joe’s community, Ruben begins to meet the other members, attend meetings, and settle into his new life. He is introduced to Diane, a teacher, and the children in her class. He also begins to learn American Sign Language. Joe tasks Ruben with writing endlessly and sitting peacefully, in an effort to be comfortable with the silence. Joe tells Ruben he will be doing the same, simultaneously. Ruben joins Diane’s class and starts to connect with the children, as well as the rest of the community. He gives the children and Diane basic drumming lessons.

Up to this point, Ruben’s stay has been sponsored by a church. Joe offers him a more permanent way of staying on and tells him to think about it. Ruben periodically uses the computer to check in on Lou and see what she is up to, discovering her to be experimenting with her own music in Paris. He gets his friend Jenn to sell his drums, sound board, and other music equipment. Ruben then sells his RV. He uses the money to get cochlear implant surgery. Ruben asks Joe if he can stay on for 3-4 weeks until the implants activate. Joe refuses, as the foundation of the community is built on the belief that deafness is not a handicap.

Once the cochlear implants are activated they allow Ruben to hear but not in a traditional sense and he has to get used to it. He is disappointed, however, to find that the implants cause irritating feedback that disrupt his attempts to regain his old way of life. Ruben flies to meet Lou at her wealthy father Richard’s house in Belgium, where she has settled into a new lifestyle. Richard welcomes him and allows him to stay there. At a gathering, Lou and her father perform a duet, though Ruben’s implants prevent him from enjoying it. Ruben and Lou discuss the possibility of playing music and touring again. Ruben notices this makes Lou anxious and tells her everything is ok, that she saved his life. Lou tells him that he saved hers too and the two realize that the time they have spent apart has made them very different people. The next morning, he wakes up, takes his things, and leaves while Lou is still sleeping. After being bothered yet again by the noises of feedback, he sits down outside and removes the cochlear implant processors, enjoying the silence.


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