“Sound of Metal” stars Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, and Mathieu Amalric. Released in theaters on November 20, 2020, followed by an Amazon Prime Video release on December 4, 2020, the film is about a drummer who begins to lose his hearing.
The film is directed by Darius Marder, who is known for directing the 2008 documentary “Loot” and co-writing “The Place Beyond the Pines”. Hearing loss can be a pain for those who are impacted, especially those who need their hearing to listen to the music or a film’s sound effects or even other people’s conversations. It’s just one of those things that are completely irreversible and can be tough to accept. The film I’ll be looking at today represents this difficult situation and the struggles that came with it. It was already released in theaters last month and has gained a respectable amount of strong reviews, with most of the praise going towards Riz Ahmed’s performance. I’ve only heard of Ahmed from a few movies I’ve seen recently, including the superhero film “Venom”, so I’m glad that he’s getting some recognition with something like this. This weekend, Amazon Studios is kind enough to release it on Prime Video at no extra cost, so that everyone with a Prime subscription (myself included) can see if it’s worthy enough to earn some awards recognition next year. With that in mind, let’s see if it’s able to hit all of the right beats.
The story follows Ruben Stone (Ahmed), a drummer who is a part of a rock band known as Blackgammon along with his singer girlfriend Lou (Cooke). His rockstar life unexpectedly takes a huge nosedive when he suddenly starts to lose his hearing during a gig. Seeing that the process is irreversible, Ruben immediately becomes an emotional wreck. He is then persuaded by his sponsor to join a deaf community, lead by Joe (Raci). With Joe’s assistance, Ruben begins the toughest journey of his life. Like I mentioned before, the film depicts the process of hearing loss and the difficult struggle to adapt to this inevitable change. It’s really heartbreaking to have something that we use very often taken away from us, especially our ability to hear. It’s a topic that’s pretty depressing to learn about, but it is also very important for the viewers to know about. With the use of the sound mixing and Darius Marder’s simplistic style of filmmaking, “Sound of Metal” was able to avoid its melodramatic formula and created a realistic, thought-provoking, and honest experience that puts audiences in the mind of a drummer with hearing loss, resulting in it being one of the best films of 2020 so far in my opinion. Riz Ahmed was absolutely fantastic in his role as Ruben Stone as he managed to capture the raw and grounded emotion of a person who’s in absolute denial of the changes he’s facing. I would definitely say that this is his best performance of his career. Olivia Cooke also did very well with her performance as Lou, and Paul Raci made a solid impression on screen as Joe. I would also give the film credit for adding in plenty of people from the deaf community, especially Lauren Ridloff, who also turned in a good performance as Diane. It gave the right amount of authenticity as to how a deaf community operates without having to hire regular actors to portray them. In terms of the screenplay and the direction, I thought Darius Marder did a phenomenal job at crafting a smart and engaging story and representing the deaf community in a respectable light. While I’m not a complete expert on this type of stuff, I can already tell that he understood how this process works. He understood the fear and the drama that came from being deaf as well as the difficult struggle of accepting this change. He was able to make these things work on film without attempting to “Hollywood-ize” the situation. I also want to mention the sound mixing, which I thought was both marvelous and extremely accurate when it comes to the subject matter. Other than the cast, this was one of the things that drove the story. The sound mixing had the perfect level of depth to immerse the viewer into the mind of someone who is deaf. It also gave them an idea on what they would expect if it would happen to them, which I believe was a smart choice that the filmmakers made.
Overall, “Sound of Metal” is both a brilliant representation of hearing loss and a fantastic drama about a drummer who encounters that process. Lead by an award-worthy performance by Ahmed, Darius Marder’s direction, and its flawless sound mixing, the film was able to drum its way to the top. This is not only one of the best films I’ve seen this year so far, but also one of the most important films that don’t involve any politics. I believe that the film is a perfect reminder that this type of change could happen to anyone at anytime. It’s a scary thought, but the way I see it, you can either let it ruin your life or learn to embrace it. That’s pretty much how I see it based on my experience with the film. If you happen to have Amazon Prime, this is one of the films from the streaming service you should definitely check out.