TL;DR – A profoundly moving and confronting film that explores a man’s life after it has been ripped asunder
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Sound of Metal Review –
There are times when you have seen an actor nail every role that you have seen them in, but they have only been in supporting roles. So you can’t wait to see someone take a chance and cast them in the lead. One of those actors is Riz Ahmed, and I am glad that I get to see that happen today with Sound of Metal.
So to set the scene, Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed) is a musician, specifically a drummer, who is on tour with his partner Lou (Olivia Cooke). One night when he is performing a ringing starts in his ears, but it goes away. However, it continues to relapse till he has only 20% hearing in both his ears. Ruben is told that he has to stop drumming or he could lose all his hearing. He ignores the doctor and goes back to drumming until it is all gone. In a moment of despair, he starts to backslide after being clean for four years. Lou calls his sponsor, and they are able to find a place that can help him with both his addiction and help him work through his loss of hearing. The head of the facility, Joe (Paul Raci) needs Ruben to cut himself off from the world for this to work, which is a difficult transition.
If there is one word, I would use to describe Sound of Metal it would be deliberate. There are many critical choices made in this film that elevate it above other similar films I have seen. The first is the choice as to whose perspective the film going to present the sound from. The sound switches from diegetic to non-diegetic depending on the scene and what the movie wants. Every sound or silence is deliberately chosen, and it is that level of detail brings you into this world. You also see that in the choice of when to start subtitling the American Sign Language. Each of these choices helps tell Ruben’s story.
Sound of Metal is a film that is charting the course of Ruben’s life when it all gets ripped asunder. It is here where Riz shines you feel every shift in his life, every success and every setback. There are moments when there is no dialogue, but you can tell every emotion that is happening just through Riz’s eyes. This is important because he is our window into this movie, and it is his story that we chart. It only works as well as it does because of his performance.
The next thing that makes this film work as well as it did is that they cast people from the deaf community for the members of the rehab house. At the core of this is the character of Joe, played by Paul Raci. He is the emotional anchor for the film, and it would not work nearly as well without him. The film’s ending would not hit the way it did, without these scenes and their authenticity.
All of this is supported by a camera that always knows just how to get the best out of their subjects. You can see this in the film’s first shot as we zoom into Ruben playing the drums. Or when the camera tilts between the people on the slide. Every moment is supporting the emotional needs of the film in a way that elevates every scene.
In the end, do we recommend Sound of Metal? Yes, yes we do. Now that is not to say that this film isn’t confronting at times, because it is as it is dealing with themes of addiction, loss, abandonment, and finding your place in the world. But every moment from start to finish was engaging, and it is one of the first films in a while where part of me wanted to know what happened to Ruben after the film cut to black. If you liked Sound of Metal, I would also recommend to you Babyteeth.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Sound of Metal
Directed by – Darius Marder
Story by – Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance
Screenplay by – Darius Marder & Abraham Marder
Music by – Nicolas Becker & Abraham Marder
Cinematography by – Daniël Bouquet
Edited by – Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
Production/Distribution Companies – Caviar, Stage 6 Films & Amazon Studios
Starring – Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, Mathieu Amalric, Domenico Toledo, Chelsea Lee, Shaheem Sanchez, Chris Perfetti, Bill Thorpe, Michael Tow, William Xifaras, Rena Maliszewski, Tom Kemp, Jeremy Stone, Ezra Marder, Hartmut Teuber, Hillary Baack, Joe Toledo, Adam Preston & Jonathon LeJeune
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: 14A; Germany: 12; New Zealand: na; United Kingdom: R; United States: R