Matt’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sound of Metal tells the story of a drummer named Ruben (played by a tremendous Riz Ahmed) who tours the country with his girlfriend Lou (played by Olivia Cooke) playing little dive bars and house shows. It’s just the 2 of them and the old RV they travel in. They clearly aren’t making much money, but they seem happy and are passionate about what they’re doing. Then, one day, Ruben’s hearing starts to go and begins to deteriorate quickly. His whole world begins to crumble immediately.
I usually don’t do all that story setup in my reviews, but I feel like a lot of people may have not heard of this one yet and I feel like it may fly under a lot of people’s radar, since it just seemed to drop out of the sky onto Amazon prime.
That would be a shame, because this may be my favorite movie of the year.
For me, this was scarier than any horror movie I saw this year. I say that because I was born deaf in one ear, and even though I feel like I hear just fine (I mean, I don’t know what things sound like with 2 working ears) I always have this fear in the back of my mind of what would happen if the hearing started to go in my good ear. This crystallizes that reality. Being plunged into silence, not being able to understand anyone. The fear, the frustration, and the confusion. The movie brilliantly uses sound design to illustrate Ruben’s hearing loss. We are so in it with this character. The ringing, the buzzing, the silences. I watched this with subtitles, and I thought it was so interesting that when Ruben starts trying to learn sign language, there were no subtitles to tell me what anyone was saying. I was as lost and confused as Ruben was as he sits at a table full of hearing impaired people and they all are signing and communicating and all he can do is sit and watch and try and keep up. Then, as Ruben slowly starts to learn sign language, the subtitles start to show the audience what is being said. We begin to understand as Ruben begins to understand.
Riz Ahmed gives my favorite performance of the year in this. He plays a flawed character, but one you can feel such empathy for, because of the circumstances he’s thrust in to and how the movie really puts us in his shoes. To wake up one day, and have what’s most important to you ripped away. The movie does an incredible job in following Ruben’s path in trying to come to terms with everything. It also has so much to say about dealing with changes in your life and adversity, but not in any kind of cheesy after school special way. It all feels raw and real. I also wish I could say more about the relationship between Ahmed and Cooke in the movie without spoilers, but man, it really hit me.
The only negative thing I can really say, is that I wasn’t entirely happy with some stuff in the final act, but it’s really just a nitpick.
I can’t promise this movie will hit the same for most people, but I just felt like I haven’t connected like this to a movie in a long time and I really want people to check this one out.
I really think it’s something special.