Juror #8’s review published on Letterboxd:
One day many months ago, I sat down to watch Sound of Metal. 20 minutes later, I decided that I was in the mood for something lighter and somehow convinced myself that the film was the most toxic thing I'd ever watched. Well, I didn't rewatch those first 20 minutes today so I don't know if that still holds true but the rest of the film was certainly not that. At all. Let's talk in subcategories, shall we?
This is what I call 'Foundation,' and amalgamation of the screenplay, direction, and themes of the film. All are one when one person writes and directs a film, hence it getting just one subsection. The foundation here is excellent. Darius Marder orchestrates everything here without fail. His characters revolve around his main character who revolves around his obsession: hearing. And obsession, as it turns out, revolves around the foundation of foundations: Sound of Metal's thematic structure. I really think that this movie's themes are some of its strongest attributes. I love the quote from Paul, I forget the exact wording but it goes something like: "Here, we don't try to fix what's right here [points to ear], we try to fix what's right here [points to heart]." It's a really good quote that encapsulates the movie quite well. And the motif of sitting still was really great as well, the ending was super powerful to me. The title Sound of Metal took on many forms, there was the heavy metal that I honestly thought would play a greater role in the story, and I'm glad it didn't as that stuff seriously stresses me out. There was the metallic noises in the third act. But mostly I think the metal is a metaphor for something. What, I'm not entirely sure. Disappointment? Addiction? …stillness? Comment what you think down below, but my bet is that the title goes far beyond that he plays some drums (although my friend @ReelTalk made a funny joke about it in his review of the film). The character of Ruben is also very complex, and while most of his brilliance emanates from Riz Ahmed's performance, all of his character growth originated from Marder. So for writing the heart and soul of the film, our boy Ruben, Darius gets a big thumbs up from me. I'd say the screenplay is much better, and more Oscar-worthy, than the direction, simply because of a) the great characters and b) the even better themes.
So Riz Ahmed is the big name floating around for this film... rightly. I really want to talk about this in the comments section down below. There were four undeniably powerhouse performances this year by Anthony Hopkins, Chadwick Boseman, Delroy Lindo, and Riz Ahmed. A conversation about each of their worthiness to win the lead Actor Oscar (although conversing about the predicted winner is pointless, since Boseman is without a doubt winning) is what I want, so please, comment your thoughts on that down below. How would you rank the four of them? Anyway, Riz delivers what I believe to be the most versatile performance of 2020. Not the best, perhaps even fourth out of the four (again, it's so insanely close that's not an insult), but he's so versatile. I feel like his voice, his eyes, his body, and his ears all tell a completely different story all at the same time and that's simply magical. His Oscar nomination is very, very deserved.
Paul Raci's nomination is too. I think he does his job very well. I do think his performance is a little overrated critically but it's still an amazing performance, nomination-worthy but not win-worthy, especially with so many good Trial boys in the race (plus the will-be and should-be winner, Daniel Kaluuya). Olivia Cooke, on the other hand, is massively underrated as I thought her performance was dramatic as all heck and I really enjoyed it. Her and Ahmed have amazing chemistry and I think I teared up a little when they had that great scene at the end. She deserved a nomination, but was robbed. Glenn Close over her and Dominique Fishback, the best supporting actress of the year? Really? Anyway, the both of them were brilliant and one more brilliant cast member and I would have nominated this for ensemble. As is though, I want a good ensemble movie to have four great performances rather than three. The acting might be one of the strongest elements of this film. Now, let's talk about the elements that were
The best part of Sound of Metal is its sound. Is that a shocker? No, it really isn't. I mean, this movie just walks up to the Sound Oscar and walks away, there really isn't another option. Enough said.
The film editing isn't nearly as good as I thought it would be. It's competing with Trial now and that's absurd, Trial had way better editing. The editing here was good, even really good, but Trial's was masterful and don't even get me started on The Father's.
The cinematography should be talked about a little more, I particularly thought the lighting was consistently really good and the wide shots were too. It wasn't anything really special but should at least be talked about more than the editing.
You'd expect the score to be better, but I suppose the entire point is that he can't hear, so having a score would be ironic. The score isn't bad or good, it's just nonexistent.
The design isn't anything special either, I guess the hair at times is pretty creative but it all feels very natural, nothing compared to the more showy design of Mank and Ma Rainey.
This is my first time itemizing technical stuff so y'all tell me if I missed something.
Let's see here, there wasn't much in the way of complaints here. I told you some of the mixed stuff- film editing, score- but they weren't bad at all, just a little light. Probably my biggest complaint about the story was that the third act didn't come back to the second act. He leaves the deaf home and never comes back. He never has a sense of closure with Paul. I loved the ending but wanted an epilogue of some sort, maybe a phone call or something. I wanted some closure with what is probably the main plot of the film, and we didn't get that. It leaves the movie's themes and narrative hanging, and that's probably my biggest issue. I also feel like the first twenty minutes was a little too dark, but it's entirely possible I just wasn't feeling up to a hard-core drama that night and I was this night. In general, the second act is the best part and the other parts aren't quite as special and heartwarming. But they come pretty close, so my complaints are very limited.
I find this film to be amazing, and I rate it four stars and reserve the right to re-rate it whenever I'd like without notice. Some lists I'd like you to check out include my 2020 ranking, which grows by the week. It now has Da 5 Bloods, The Mole Agent, this, and Troop Zero which I moved from my 2019 list to fit the same rules as this-- it isn't really a 2019 film, you see. Then we got The Jurors, my personal Oscars. This was nominated for several awards including Picture, all three acting categories except lead actress, and Screenplay. It also won Sound. Good night, Tri-State area.
PS: I'm gonna try this review style out, and see if it sticks. What do you think? Add that to the list of things you'll comment: your theme interpretation, your actor thoughts, and what you think of my review style. Juror out.