Sound of Metal ★★½

Oh boy, the sound design in this is as good as it needs to be! They really rose to the occasion, just all around spectacular work. The central performance is justifiably lauded, as well, especially because I don't think he is given enough to work with in the script.

Everything else is a bit pat. I will first say that my expectations of what I thought this movie would be are getting in the way of what it is. I expected it to be a lot more about his relationship to music and playing an instrument and his general love of the experience of performing. It sets this up pretty well in the opening scene, but once his hearing is gone there's not really much to be said about drumming (or really anything much of who he is as a person) and it's really just about someone - anyone - dealing with hearing loss.

Then there is the filmmaking itself, which is about as in line with recent indie and quiet drama trends as it can be. Lots of handheld, natural lighting, no non-diagetic music, naturalistic performances, quiet moments mixed with small everyday procedural snippets, etc. I like quite a few movies that use this style - Zhao's Nomadland being the most recent example (though it doesn't check all those boxes). But the ones I love, like Nomadland, don't just mine this style for artistic value, they execute at a higher level in ways that provides some unique insight into its subject matter. The simple act of depicting a different experience is not enough, and I'm not sure there's more here than the marvelous sound design and a few very good performances.