jing’s review published on Letterboxd:
it's been a while since a movie has left me as speechless and as moved as this one has, leaving me in a state of complete astonishment while watching the credits roll through a wall of tears.
sound of metal begins with an intense and loud opening scene, but what starts as outwardly intense and noisy soon turns into a quiet, thoughtful, and human portrait of a man whose life and dreams change in a matter of moments. over the course of the film, we watch him live, despair, laugh, and hope, and although we see him struggling, we also see him taking in life in all its beauty.
i admittedly expected this to be much louder, at least on the surface (i didn't read the synopsis until i was 10 minutes into the movie), but right after the intense opening scene, this film welcomes us with peaceful and almost melancholic stillness through static shots of everyday objects, intricately creating a serene atmosphere that we unconsciously, for some reason, know we are going to miss, but we don't know why yet.
a few minutes later, however, we find out why: muted and muffled sounds accompany the same static shots, and now, they don't at all feel calming anymore. throughout the whole movie, it is the brilliant juxtaposition between ruben's silence and the sounds of the outside that make this film as moving and poignant as it is, and it is darius marder's direction that gives an almost infinite amount of nuance to the silence against its loud backdrop. sometimes crushing, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes moving and sometimes elevating, the silence is as reflective of the film as the narrative itself.
needless to say, the juxtaposition between ruben's hearing and the soundscapes of the outside world wouldn't be half as effective without the cinematography. handheld closeups guide muffled noises, and static medium or long shots accompany undisturbed sounds. as ruben's journey towards acceptance goes on, however, the shaky closeups and "normal" sounding static frames slowly give way to shots that are both static and silent, moving me to tears.
it goes without saying that riz ahmed's performance is absolutely fantastic, his portrayal of not only ruben's despair and fear, but also his expressions of gratitude and contentedness reduced me to tears. in my humble (and probably irrelevant) opinion, a good performance is one that makes you forget you're watching an actor on screen and instead, makes you laugh and cry with the character, which is exactly what happened to me while watching this.
quiet, powerful, poignant and sobering, sound of metal unexpectedly moved me more than i would have thought possible. even though i wasn't per se able to identify with the characters, there's something in darius marder's direction that creates a stirring experience that's difficult to compare, and even more difficult to describe (tried my best), which makes it hard to believe that this is his directorial debut.
this film leaves me with a lot of things, but above all, it leaves me with a sense of gratitude and contentedness for the beauty and joys of life. never before have i cried looking at static shots of trees, a bell tower, or the sky. never before have i sat dumbfounded through the credits of a film, unable to compose myself with tears streaming down my cheeks. so glad i discovered this thanks to letterboxd.
> the prom