Sound of Metal has been on the minds of many film fans for years now. With images first released a couple of years, it was definitely worth the wait. Darius Marder’s directorial debut is a fantastic study into deafness. Following heavy metal drummer, Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed), whose life is turned upside down as he loses his hearing and his struggle to adapt to his new life. From a script written by Marder and his brother, Abraham Marder, Sound of Metal will have you feeling the distress and frustration that Ruben experiences as we begin to see and hear the world through his eyes and ears.
The first thing to notice is the brilliance of the script. Starting off at a concert, Ruben plays the drum in a band while his girlfriend, Lou (Olivia Cooke) sings. It’s an overwhelming experience filled with loud music which is then contrasted with the gradual loss of hearing through the subsequent scenes. As Ruben has to accept that his music career is over, he must also adjust to the new situation. As a recovering alcoholic, his sponsor is concerned that he will relapse and sends him to a shelter ran by Joe (Paul Raci) where he can meet fellow people within the deaf community as well as finding a job that can suit him. The screenplay is fantastically paced and doesn’t leave a moment of relaxation as we explore Ruben’s relationships with his new community as well as trying to salvage his relationship with partner, Lou.
Riz Ahmed pulls off a career best performance as Ruben and has received an array of award wins and nominations, including a very well deserved nomination for the Best Leading Actor Award at this year’s Oscars. The film acts as a brilliant character study into Ruben’s life as we begin to learn more about him and his life story as the film develops. At the shelter, Ruben takes on a job as a children’s drum instructor and becomes an inspiration to those around him as well as inspired by the community who has welcomed him with open arms. Despite this, he still feels as though something is missing. With Lou having gone back to France, Ruben cannot feel cometary satisfied or whole without his hearing and he becomes determined to get implants put in that can bring back his hearing. This conflict between retrieving his hearing and learning to accept his deafness is one that resonates throughout the whole film and the results are heartbreaking.
In support, Paul Raci is fantastic as Joe, the owner of the shelter that Ruben is taken to. Having also lost his hearing later in life, Joe is able to lip read and interpret and is the key that Ruben needs to accept his situation. Raci has long worked as an interpreter and his deep knowledge on the subject makes him the perfect choice for this role. His final scene in the film when Ruben tells him about his implants is absolutely heartbreaking as it seems that his work was for nothing. His presence in the film is scattered throughout and he seems to be the missing puzzle piece as Ruben needs to find a consistency that his old life couldn’t afford him. Joe gives him the opportunity to settle down and make a decent living inspiring children to become musicians. Raci’s Supporting Actor nominations this awards season are completely deserved and it’s fantastic to see him receive such recognition for a brilliant performance that will stay with you long after the film finishes.
The sound editing and mixing in this film is second to none. Brilliantly conveying the struggles of Ruben’s deafness through the use of muffled sounds, moments of complete silence which is later juxtaposed by a whirlwind of chaotic noises after Ruben receives his implant. The sound team have done a brilliant job of keeping the audience on edge and capturing their attention by making the film just as important to listen to as it is to watch.
Sound of Metal is an exhilarating watch that will have you feeling the frustration and limitation as the protagonist as he struggles to deal with his new life. With extremely strong and impactful performances from the cast and a stellar script to boot, this a film that commands your attention from the first frame and will hold it until the credits start to roll.
What did you think about Sound of Metal? Let me know in the comments below!
Sound of Metal is available to watch on Amazon Prime!