Jacob Bidelman’s review published on Letterboxd:
This was not a “ba dum tss” moment...
Sound of Metal was an electrifying, tantalizing, and confidently crafted film which displayed a truly impressive, vulnerable performance by Riz Ahmed and a simple yet magnetic story of passion, frustration, and progression, all enhanced by incredibly stellar sound design.
Darius Marder wrote and directed a truly engaging story, using realistic dialogue and almost seasoned techniques to communicate the main character’s sudden change in lifestyle. Every decision made displayed a level of confidence that is rarely seen with newcomers. The confided camerawork captured his frustration almost perfectly, as well as the simplistic mis-en-scene and color-grading. Riz Ahmed, however, sold his character. Damn. What a phenomenal performance; so realistic, gritty, and equally devastating. He channeled a multitude of emotions in just about every frame, and one could indefinitely hear his uncomforted tone and fury through his fascinating line delivery. It’s impossible not to be emotionally invested with his character. When he smiles, you smile. It’s that simple.
But, easily... and I mean easily, the strongest aspect of the film was the sound design. The sound design was magnificent. It’s almost indescribable how well the sound in the film accomplished to audibly benefit the script and cinematography. Arguably the most captivating and excruciatingly loud moments would fade into silence while the most naturally quiet settings would erupt in distorted, agonizing noise that would make the stronger of individuals crumble in seconds. The sound frequently adjusted to fit the perspective of the characters as well, and through solid editing, the changes would intensify the emotional prowess the film consistently delivered.
As a personal preference, I wish the first act would have taken its time to establish a baseline for Ahmed’s character. The audible switch, while extremely effective, occurred too soon. More time to introduce his passion for music and his relationship with Cooke’s character would have elevated that moment up an extra octave. To contrast, the third act introduced a little too much to resonate; some exposition felt a tad out-of-left-field at times.
But in the end, this rocked. Seriously. 🦻🏻