- Hamish Hart
Sound of Metal (2020) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
SCREENPLAYS are often taken for granted when creating any form of media. Each action performed by an actor must be perfectly laid out in a coherent way for the story to make sense for the actors and viewers respectively.
Amazon Prime's best kept exclusive secret, Sound of Metal, expertly crafts a systematic screenplay which maintains a meaningful and harrowing beat throughout.
Heavy metal drummer and former drug addict, Rueben (Riz Ahmed), is left in a state of retrograde after being diagnosed with severe hearing loss, putting his musical career in jeopardy.
However, with encouragement from his girlfriend, Lou (Olivia Cooke), Rueben attends a deaf-person sanctuary where he learns how to cope with the loss of something his whole life revolved around: sound.
Riz Ahmed, known for his roles in Nightcrawler (2014) and Venom (2018), delivers the performance of his career as a depressed drummer who must come to terms with his new disability. Ahmed makes you believe his anguish through minor breakdowns mid-conversation when he must confront people and acknowledge his impairment.
Co-starring alongside Ahmed is Olivia Cooke, a relatively unknown actress until her 2018 coming-out party in Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One. Much like Ahmed, Cooke does a tremendous job as a supportive girlfriend who herself suffers from prior addictions, which is superbly hinted at through arm scratches and scars.
Perhaps the most overshadowed performance in the film is by Paul Raci's Joe, the man who takes Rueben in and teaches him how to live with his deafness. His role is one-dimensional at first, but when Rueben makes a life-changing decision during the third act, Raci delivers a profound speech to Rueben about how he must learn to live with the choices he makes and how life just isn't fair to some.
While the acting and screenplay are considerably great, Sound of Metal just keeps getting better when you delve into the philosophy behind its use of sound.
Sound of Metal begins with Rueben and Lou during one of their nightly performances, followed by their routine morning schedule of dripping coffee and blended energy drinks. But when Rueben shows signs of hearing loss, the film accentuates his deafness by having sounds of traffic cut in and out, and the aforementioned dripping coffee and blending becoming mute.
Sound design can be a difficult aspect to perfect in film, but Darius Marder's Sound of Metal joins legendary blockbusters such as Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan to feature near-perfect sound, with Nicolas Becker (Sound Designer) knowing when silence is a virtue and when ear-piercing screeches can translate Rueben's struggle wholly.
Streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, Sound of Metal is easily one of my favourite films in the past five years and stands as a firm reminder of how silence can be captured and translated in narratives.