Caleb’s review published on Letterboxd:
Riz Ahmed was always one to look out for, given his terrific performance in Nightcrawler. Yet when I had heard that this one was about a metal drummer going deaf, my interest was piqued. Then, when I learned this had baked-in captions that were accessible to the deaf community, then I knew I had to see this. As a deaf person, I'm always skeptical to how filmmakers portray deaf people in general. There's quite a bit they don't capture, but it's impossible to truly capture the deaf experience, as I'll call it, because we are a spectrum of people. There are deaf people that wish to stay deaf and use American Sign Language their entire lives. There are also those who wish to hear by way of either hearing aid and cochlear implant, and that's where I fall in. Though I do use American Sign Language, as I have for the most of my life, and I do engage in both the deaf community and the hearing community as well. That being said, it should be clear this captures only a part of the deaf experience.
Yet, what a part! This was so tender, sensitively made in the way that respects the deaf community as a whole yet also respects Ahmed's character for his world was turned upside down by losing his hearing. This experience is captured quite well with sound design, when Ahmed's character loses his hearing, and all he hears is... nothing. Complete silence. So this is where Riz Ahmed comes in. While this film might've felt a bit long here and there, this is where Riz Ahmed really carries this film. He does it all with his body language and his facial expressions, and this is where I felt I had something in common with his character, hearing absolutely nothing yet his journey was different from mine's. He does get some help, not with his hearing, but at first learning to live with his hearing loss at a place that also has deaf people there. They do not view it as a disability, and I felt this film handled that aspect really well to the point where I felt represented, and it was really wonderful to see. Paul Raci plays a prominent role in which he helps Ahmed's character on his journey, and his performance was absolutely beautiful. He really just walked in and did that. He gave this film life in contrast to Ahmed's feeling of alienation and isolation for a certain period of time.
In short, this was an incredible experience to feel represented in the way I didn't think of before. The ending is really just icing on cake, and I wouldn't have it end in any other way. Change is the real handicap, and life certainly gives you a bad hand to play with, but guess what? You try to play it the best you can.
Easily one of the more empathic films I've seen this year, with wonderful inclusive baked-in captions that really added to the film, Sound of Metal is just simply unmissable. Really loved this and I can't wait to watch this again in December. Oscars for Riz Ahmed and Paul Raci, please and thank you.