IF IT WASN’T FOR MY ECLECTIC taste in music, I would surely be deaf now. In my younger days I could be found at some type of concert almost every week. From small nightclub venues to large indoor stadiums, I was spending a good portion of my paycheck on music concerts. I will say, I have been fortunate to have seen some classic and memorable musical performances. For example, I saw Freddie Mercury and Queen a couple of times; Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, Jane Oliver, Black Sabbath, Bette Midler and Tina Turner. Many of the concerts were held in an older 18,000 seat stadium, with the last rows up close to the rafters. I remember the buzz of energy sparking through the massive crowd of people who were piling into their seats. There would be these massive speakers stacked up on both ends of the stage, along with speakers that hung down from the roof. With some bands, the music was so loud coming through the speakers that the sound would reverberate in my chest. My ears would be ringing, but I would not notice it until the concert ended. There was one concert that left me with a ringing in my ears until the middle of the following day. Back then I did not give much thought to my ears and in fact, took the ringing as a sign that it was a good concert. How dumb of me. WHAT MADE ME REALIZE THE DAMAGE I was doing to my ears was my first flight to Mexico. I went with a friend and the night before I came down with a head cold. Since it was just some congestion without a cough or fever, I did not give it much thought. However, when the plane was descending, my ears felt like a knife was plunging into my eardrums because of my clogged sinuses; I was in excruciating pain. By the time we landed, I could not hear a thing. My friend had to take the lead on everything for the next two days. If I hadn’t been so freaked out by it, I would have had a better time and just relaxed with the quiet. The only way I could communicate was either by writing a note or doing a solo form of charades. The day I got my hearing back started out with me hearing a crackling noise every time I swallowed. It was similar sounding to the turning of a radio dial, filled with static and buzzing. As soon as I was able to once again hear the spoken word, I vowed never to fly with a cold again and always put ear plugs in my ears before a concert. It was tough watching the main character in this musical drama at first because it brought back such memories for me. PANIC BEGAN TO SET IN AS Ruben, played by Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), started to lose his hearing. To make matters worse, his profession was accelerating the pace. With Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Thoroughbreds) as Lou, Paul Raci (Smoothtalker, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn) as Joe, Lauren Ridloff (If You could Hear my Own Tune, The Walking Dead-TV) as Diane and Mathieu Amalric (Venus in Fur, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) as Richard Berger; this film festival winner had a simple but emotionally filled script. The way scenes played into each other with the incredible use of sound to connect them was impressive. Riz was outstanding with his character; the internal and external battles he experienced were equally intense which added to the connection the story was making with the viewer. I hope he gets a nomination this awards season. This was a wonderful film that was filled with depth and poignancy. I think it also provides an accurate picture of those with a hearing loss.
3 ½ stars
There is a particular strength of the fiercest kind that emanates from a mother protecting her young. I cannot count how many documentaries about animals I have seen that showed situations where the odds were stacked against the mothers and their children. It made no difference for those mothers used everything they had to push back an adversary. When I was a tutor in college I saw many mothers arguing with their children’s instructors; even when it was clear, at least to me, the mothers were in the wrong. They would argue and yell sometimes at the professor, demanding certain conditions, wanting what they thought was best for their child. I realized right there that a parent’s protective instincts may not always serve them well. Like anything in life there is always an extreme to every situation. Where a parent could be the biggest advocate for their offspring; on the other end of the spectrum,a parent could be detrimental to their child’s well-being. EMILY Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl,Hugo) played Lizzie, a mother who would do anything to protect her deaf son Frankie, played by Jack McElhone (Nowhere Boy, Young Adam). Afraid to tell Frankie the truth about his dad, Lizzie had secretly been writing letters to Frankie, pretending to be his father who was traveling the world aboard the HMS Accra. All was good until Frankie discovered the ship was scheduled to return back home to port. Lizzie would have a hard time trying to explain why Frankie’s father was not on that boat. This film festival winning movie had a special gentleness that filtered up out of the story. I thought Emily and Jack really blended well together, creating a loving relationship between mother and son. Gerard Butler (Law Abiding Citizen, Machine Gun Preacher) surprised me as the stranger; there was a sweet softness to his character that played well with the rest of the cast. I want to especially point out the scenes where Frankie went to school. The writers did an honest and believable job of showing how children encounter and react to a peer with a handicap. If there were parts where the action slowed I was not much aware of it because I enjoyed the way the story unfolded, revealing a couple of surprises for me. A person does not need shared bloodlines to become a parent. One only has to start with love, care, support, encouragement and protection to form a bond with a child. The mother in this dramatic picture was just as special as her child.
3 stars — DVD