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Sound of Metal Ending Explained: Addiction and Acceptance

Sound Of Metal Ending Explained Ruben Drumming

Sound of Metal follows Ruben Stone, a recovering drug addict and talented drummer who suddenly begins to lose his hearing.

The story explores notions of addiction, denial, and acceptance.

As fans of Sound of Metal know, Ruben is encouraged to join a deaf community to help him process his new lifestyle. The movie builds towards a dramatic decision that Ruben makes to get surgical implants to help him hear again.

But what does the Sound of Metal ending really mean? Join me as I dissect the hidden meaning behind the movie’s ending in relation to the story’s key aspects of character development.

Ruben’s Character Flaw: Denial

As Ruben’s hearing loss becomes more apparent, he is forced to confront the reality of his situation. However, his immediate reaction is characterised by denial as he insists to the doctor that it’s not a disease and demands a solution.

Ruben initially conceals the problem from Lou for a while but eventually has to admit the severity of his condition.

His sense of denial continues to grow, which reflects Ruben’s essence as an addict. In other words, as denial envelops him, he is actually regressing as a human being to the person that existed before we first met him on-screen.

Ruben’s actions expose his central flaw as a character, and his degree of acceptance becomes the value at stake as the narrative progresses.

Sound of Metal Ending Explained Ruben

Confronting Reality: The Deaf Community

Ruben is introduced to Joe, a Vietnam veteran who runs a deaf community in a rural area.

Joe explains to Ruben that being deaf is not a problem to be fixed and hopes that Ruben will find solace amongst individuals in the same situation as him. 

Reluctantly, Ruben makes a choice to stay with the community, and his initial lack of enthusiasm shows that his time with the community is only a temporary solution.

Although he quickly assimilates with the group and takes time to learn sign language, his progress soon comes crashing down around him.

Ruben’s Choice: His Tragic Flaw

Ruben chooses to receive the cochlear implant surgery, which prompts Joe to eject him from the community. 

It transpires that the surgery is not fully successful. With impaired hearing, Ruben returns to Lou, who now resides in Paris and has moved on with her life. 

Ruben realises he no longer belongs with her and decides to leave her apartment early in the morning, completely alone.

Sound of metal ending explained Ruben

Sound of Metal Ending: The Final Image

The story closes as Ruben sits on a Parisian bench outside a clock tower. As he sits alone, he chooses to remove the implants.

For the first time, Ruben embraces the silence in a state of acceptance over his new fate. This single choice expresses the destination of his character development, as he is able to reconcile the prospect of having lost his hearing.

Overall, Sound of Metal is rich with subtext and emotional depth, with the characters and themes intricately woven together. 

For a deeper dive into the Sound of Metal ending, and the story’s relationship between character and theme, click the button below to watch my video essay on the screenplay. 

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Nick Fore Script Doctor / Script Consultant

Nick Fore is an experienced script consultant who reads screenplays for the British Film Institute.

He has written comprehensive coverage on over 1,000 scripts and has helped screenwriters get their work into development with production companies such as Imagine Entertainment and Screen Ireland. 

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