This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
kira’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
this was pretty great, but i do have to point out a few inaccuracies. for reference, i have a family member with a cochlear implant, which is why i know these things. for starters, you don’t get a full functional bilateral cochlear implant that fast! after the surgery, there are SEVERAL follow up appointments to have you slowly adjust to them, you do NOT just walk out with them after one follow up appoint post-surgery. having someone wear them that fast could literally make the person suicidal- it’s a meant to be a long process adjusting to the sound of them. secondly, i would’ve thought they’d explain to Ruben that cochlear implants don’t work well in crowds and loud spaces and that the noise in these situations is very distressing- when i’m with my family member who has one, we always have to find a table at the restaurant in the back corner, and he sits as close to a wall as he can, so the sound isn’t overwhelming (also- this person is blind so we are not able to communicate through ASL, so the implant working is important for communication and accessibility). we also tend to avoid super crowded restaurants for this reason. the idea that you could play live music with them is absurd- i know Ruben didn’t know these things, but i would think someone would’ve explained them to him. thirdly, a lot of insurances do cover them- it was unclear whether Ruben had insurance, and it would’ve made more sense for them to specify that he was uninsured and made that the reason he had to raise the money. i like the idea of touching on the inaccessibility of the implants due to cost, i just wish it was done better.
as for the film itself, overall it was well done. Riz Ahmed carries this movie on his back!!! it’s clear that he took the role seriously and did a of preparation. i really appreciate that the film acknowledged the perception of cochlear implants within the deaf community, and touched on how we perceive being deaf as a disability and how that’s very harmful. in a lot of ways, how our society labels disabilities is due to how those “disabilities” affect one’s ability to “function” under capitalism.
i know some people may have different feelings on the character getting implants and initially rejecting the community at the deaf rehab, but i think it was great. to have the character not get the implants and immediately embrace the rehab community takes away from his arc. Ruben’s journey through the film is him learning to accept his situation and change his perception of it, and although it’s obvious he sees the possibility of a fulfilling life working at the rehab, he isn’t able to fully let go of the fantasy of a “cure” with the implants until he goes to see Lou and realizes things won’t ever be the same for the both of them. it’s the final scene, where he takes off the implant for the first time, that he begins to accept the stillness that the film keeps touching on.
i really like how they didn’t make him relapse- it would’ve felt super cliche and tired if they did. it was apparent that his life with his girlfriend was a big reason why he was clean, and the realization at the end that things with her won’t be the same could’ve made him relapse, but it didn’t- it was his way of finally learning to accept the stillness.
the sound design was really interesting- i appreciated how they gave the viewer insight into how Ruben heard the world, both in his deafness and when he wore the implants. the scene where he first hears live music through the implants is extremely powerful.
overall i definitely recommend this film, despite the few inaccuracies it does a great job of representing the deaf community (obviously that’s just my opinion and people are welcome to disagree). also, i’m someone who watches everything with subtitles anyways, but if it isn’t obvious, WATCH THIS WITH SUBTITLES. it’s extremely important. the subtitles also bring you closer into Ruben’s point of view- you’ll see what i mean when you watch it.