The Reel House’s review published on Letterboxd:
Darius Marder’s directional debut “Sound of Metal” was absolutely phenomenal.
Being a fan of Marder’s writing already (I thought “The Place Beyond the Pines” was an excellent film especially the first hour) and a fan of Riz Ahmed from what I’ve seen (“Nightcrawler etc.), it would be an understatement to say that I was pretty damn pumped to see this movie and the praise from festivals definitely helped aswell.
Marder’s direction prioritised handheld to fully convey the documentary-esque realism of the film. The film is extremely naturalistic especially when it comes to the writing and the movie phenomenal acting by Riz Ahmed.
Ahmed gives an insanely good performance in this film. His performance is vulnerable, chaotic and melancholic all at the same time. Ahmed plays Ruben who plays the drums in a heavy metal band with his girlfriend Lou (played by Olivia Cooke who also gives a really good performance) but when suddenly Ruben starts to lose his hearing, he has to face the trials and tribulations that come with this. Although having no personal relation to this source material, the film to me felt extremely authentic and realistic. Deaf people are not always given the best presentations in film so it was fantastic to see a film that really respects and understand it’s subject matter.
The sound design by Nicholas Becker (“Gravity”..... yeah he’s that good) was key for a film like this to fully pull off the realism and believability of the picture and Becker achieved this from his unique sound design and the lack of it. No spoilers here but Beckers sound design was emotionally innovative and investing. The first time “the ringing” appeared, followed by Ahmed’s stunning acting and reaction to it : I was moved, scared and completely invested. I felt as if I was put into that specific situation and the pure vulnerability that Marder managed to convey was sensational.
“Sound of Metal” was an incredible journey and a film that everyone should go and watch.