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Sound and Fury (unrated)
Artistic License Films

Official Site

Director: Josh Aronson

Producer: Roger Weisberg

Rating: out of 5


SOUND AND FURY is not a particularly well-made documentary, but its subject matter is compelling. Cochlear implants, when connected to a receiver-amplifier, allow deaf persons to hear and to understand and develop speech. The implants do not "cure" deafness, though; when the device is turned off, the wearer cannot hear. Implants are most effective when inserted during early childhood, the years when the brain is a sponge for language. The heart of the matter is whether or not it is extraordinarily loving or extraordinarily abusive to perform cochlear implant surgery on a deaf child.

An extended family with many deaf members personifies this conflict. The players are: One nuclear family consisting of a father (Peter), mother (Nita), and three deaf children, one of whom, a five-year-old girl (Heather), asks her parents for a cochlear implant; the hearing parents of this father; their other, hearing son, his hearing wife (Mari) (whose parents and siblings are deaf), and their twin sons, one of whom is deaf (Peter); and the Mari's deaf parents. Mari and her husband decide on cochlear implant surgery for their son, splitting the family in two. Mari's parents, Big Peter, and Nita perceive the decision as a hurtful disregard for Deaf Culture and an unloving rejection of deaf persons, including her own son. Mari, her husband, and his parents believe that a cochlear implant offers Little Peter a broader range of opportunities in life, and yes, corrects a sensory loss.

That's about it, really. One is left, as always, to marvel at both the mental processes and the emotional fortitude of individuals who open up personal, private moments of their lives to the glances of strangers. The filmmaking here is pretty straightforward and uninspired. Frankly, SOUND AND FURY doesn't even look decent. Plus, filmmaker Aronson made the questionable—I think, damnable—decision to cast overwrought voiceover actors to emote badly what the family members are saying in sign language. Aronson's decision is an unthinking disrespect of deaf persons that reflects the arrogance of the hearing. The subtitling was quite sufficient.

Worthwhile not as a work of filmmaking, but for the discussions it will doubtless provoke, SOUND AND FURY does signify.

—Roxanne Bogucka


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


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