SOUND OF METAL
Running Time: 121 mins.
Where Can You See It?: Amazon Prime
Premise: A heavy metal band drummer (The Night Of’s Riz Ahmed) loses his hearing and has to learn to live with the silence that follows.
Behind-the-Scenes: Premiered at the 2020 Sundance Fest to great acclaim. Many of the supporting roles are filled by actors in the deaf community. This is director Darius Marder’s first feature. He previously co-wrote The Place Beyond the Pines with Derek Cianfrance, who is a producer here. Ahmed learned American Sign Language (ASL) for the film, and communicated with the director and deaf cast almost exclusively through ASL. He also spent 6 months learning the drums.
The Good: Riz Ahmed gives one of the best performances of the year as Ruben. He expertly conveys the character’s inner turmoil and grace, strengths and weaknesses in a nuanced, empathetic manner. Ahmed is one of the more interesting actors working today, and he can do so much with so little just by modulating the expression on his face. He’s fascinating to watch. Another standout in a supporting role is Paul Raci, as the spiritual guru and counselor for the deaf camp that Ruben attends. The scenes between Raci and Ahmed light up the screen. The sound design is Oscar-worthy, and rather nerve-wracking in its realism. It puts you right inside the head of Ruben, allowing the viewer to hear exactly what he hears (or doesn’t hear, for that matter). The script is insightful and well-written, with a final act that deviates from formula in interesting ways.
The Bad: There are moments in the film that flirt with an after-school special vibe. The pacing slightly drags while Ruben is making progress at the deaf camp. Still, it’s all so well-acted by Ahmed that you’re with him on the journey, wherever the movie takes you and however long it takes you to get there.
Should You See It?: Yes. Sound of Metal is one of the best films of the year. Ahmed and the sound design should both be locks for Oscar nominations. I can’t imagine anyone not appreciating the film and the story it’s trying to tell.
Star Rating: **** out of 5 stars
Better Than: The Place Beyond the Pines, The Diving Bell & the Butterfly
Worse Than: Born on the Fourth of July, Scent of a Woman
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