‘Sound of Metal’ movie review: Riz Ahmed is phenomenal in this understated drama

Riz Ahmed in ‘Sound of Metal’   | Photo Credit: Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal is a gripping deep dive into questions of identity through the journey of a musician who discovers he is going deaf. From the opening sequence of Ruben pounding on the drums with his girlfriend Lou, belting out a heavy metal song, Sound of Metal grabs the viewer.

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Ruben and Lou are touring in their RV, playing gigs with an album on the way. Everything seems perfect till Ruben suddenly realises he is losing his hearing. When the doctor tells him his condition is progressive, Ruben feels his life is coming apart.

A former heroin addict, Lou is worried the present stress would challenge his sobriety. Ruben’s sponsor suggests a place for deaf recovering addicts. Though initially reluctant, Ruben joins and integrates into the community to a certain extent.

Sound of Metal
  • Director: Darius Marder
  • Cast: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, Mathieu Amalric
  • Story line: A heavy metal drummer loses his hearing and sets out on a journey of self-discovery
  • Run time: 120 minutes

Subtle and understated for a film on heavy metal, the movie is carried through on the back of a phenomenal performance by Riz Ahmed. Sound of Metal is as much about hearing loss and addiction as it is about losing one’s identity. As Ruben, Riz brings out the frustration, anger, fear, the hope and hopelessness of his condition. With his expressive eyes, his bleached blond hair and revelatory tattoos, he masterfully conveys Ruben’s energy, his refusal to accept things, his fight to make things better, and acceptance.

The supporting cast are equally good—from Olivia Cooke’s tough love as Lou to Lauren Ridloff as Diane who teaches at the deaf school where Ruben volunteers. Mathieu Amalric as Lou’s super rich dad is suave while Paul Raci as Joe, the alcoholic who lost his hearing in Vietnam, and runs the sober house personifies the maxim that, “deafness is not a handicap to be fixed”.

Sound of Metal is eerily prescient in these unsettling times when we have had many of the things that define us stripped away. It is a movie that nudges us to think about what is truly important to our lives. That it does it with an engaging story, stark visuals and searing performances is a welcome bonus.

Sound of Metal is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video


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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 7:24:49 AM |

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