Ruben (Riz Ahmed) is in a stable place for the first time in his life: he’s four years sober and touring as a drummer in a metal band with his longtime girlfriend (Olivia Cooke)—but his sense of the world shatters around him when he starts to rapidly lose his hearing. Before it can get any worse, Ruben is admitted to a rehabilitation-style facility where he adapts to his new normal and finds solace in a deaf community—but behind the scenes, Ruben is trying to raise money to get an implant and return to his old life as soon as possible. Sound of Metal peels back the internalized ableism surrounding deafness, especially in how it interrogates Ruben’s desire to “fix” his condition and go back to what he perceives as normalcy. Riz Ahmed shines as a leading man at war with himself and the world around him, but the real heart of Sound of Metal lies in the care and empathy put forth in its sound design.