A heavy metal drummer loses his hearing in Sound of Metal, an impressive feature film debut for writer/director Darius Marder. Headlining the film is Riz Ahmed, who delivers one of the year’s best performances.
Ahmed’s character, Ruben, faces the daunting realization that his life has to change in profound ways; every bit of his essence revolves around music and the rough-and-tumble lifestyle that comes with it. His girlfriend (Olivia Cooke) is equally immersed; she is but a proxy of his interests and talents. As Ruben soon discovers, losing his hearing means much more than a disability.
Sound of Metal is wonderfully written, with a sharp, lean, and piercing screenplay. Paired with an amazing use of sound–or, in some cases, an absence of sound–Marder and crew make the film a visceral experience, one that makes you feel and sense in new ways. The sound design and mixing are incredible and really ratchet up what could have been a very straightforward and simple little drama.
But at the heart of the film is Ahmed, who is simply stunning. Ahmed has quietly established himself as one of the best actors working today, and he puts his full colors on display here. From the first second of the film to the last, he commands your attention and deserves every plaudit thrown his way.
The movie, too, is terrific. Even before its powerful final scene, the movie taps into what it’s like to be a deaf person, both physically and emotionally. Highly recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.