Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal ★★★★

"The world does keep moving and it can be a damn cruel place, But for me those moments of stillness, that place, that’s the Kingdom of God. And that place will never abandon you."

Darius Marder's directorial debut Sound of Metal is a movie that I had been looking forward to for more than a year since its original premiere, if only for the immensely talented cast. Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke are two of the most interesting talents who have appeared on the landscape of filmmaking during the last decade, but the depth and sheer impact of their performances still shocked me during this film.

Riz Ahmed has likely been (and will remain) at the center of the conversation surrounding this film, and it's no surprise whatsoever. He delivers a stunning tour-de-force and completely immerses himself into the character, as he connects with the deaf community and tries to find his place in life, to come to terms with his condition and the effects that sudden deafness has on the life of a metal drummer. The research that went into faithfully portraying the deaf experience is astounding, even though I can only rely on what I've read from online reviews and what I feel might be the case, as I'm not deaf myself and also don't know anyone who is deaf themselves. I might not be in a position to judge the accuracy of its depiction of the deaf experience, but I can judge that a great screenwriter, a great director, and a great cast ensemble worked on this film. And boy, did every single one of them deliver stunning work.

From the supporting cast, the obvious choice to single out would be Olivia Cooke. Cooke has been delivering great, under-the-radar performances for years; she has been one of my favorite parts of the wonderful series Bates Motel, gave great performances in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Thoroughbreds and was easily the best thing about Spielberg's Ready Player One. She does not appear for more than half of the film, but her presence still casts a shadow over the entire film, and had a surprising impact on me that I wouldn't have expected. Paul Raci and Lauren Ridloff portray further important rules, being part of the deaf community themselves, and I can only say that I hope we will be able to see both of them in a lot more films. Raci in particular is absolutely fantastic. In that context, it might be interesting to note that Lauren Ridloff will actually play a deaf superhero in next year's (or whenever it will be released) Eternals.

The sound design is excellent. In one minute, we are put in Ruben's place, getting to hear everything as he hears it; in another minute, we get to hear everything as non-deaf people hear it, without ever losing the conscious reminder that being able to hear these sounds is not to be taken for granted. There are also some beautiful shots in here that caught me by surprise. Darius Marder chose a very gritty, naturalistic and restrained approach for the direction, but it works well. Sound of Metal is an incredible journey with extremely dedicated performances at its core, ultimately turning it into one of the must-watch movies of 2020.

2020 Ranked

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