chavel’s review published on Letterboxd:
Heavy Metal has never been an art form to me. But it took only moments into Sound of Metal to assert to me why people dig it – loud and blaring enough to put oneself into a trance, or to numb oneself. The true feature attraction is actor Riz Ahmed (olive-skinned with eyes full of intensity) who I first took notice of in “Trishna” nearly a decade ago, an India-set romantic tragedy based off of the Thomas Hardy novel “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.” He’s been magnetic in a number of diverse roles, but this role without a doubt lets him tap his versatility. The second quality of the film that I took notice of was the idiosyncratic sound editing. Past high impressions of terrific sound editing in my moviegoer life was a scene in “All That Jazz” where Joe Gideon hears no chatter but only the diegetic sounds of the room. The protagonist experiences shattered ear drums about a half hour into “Come and See” and that empathetic recreation of such an experience was even more impressive. Here, we get the ear ringing and then hollowness in sound that we experience via Ruben, thus, his sudden bad hearing puts his entire livelihood to the test.
This is another one of those movies though where Ruben doesn’t have an extensive network of friends and he has nobody to call but his girlfriend (Olivia Cooke). I find it hard to believe he doesn’t have friends that call him (or text him)?! He’s also an incredibly diligent and resourceful person for somebody who was formerly a heavy drug user. Supposedly cocaine and heroin never wrecked his focus. The movie is overlong in its second act, has flaws in writing complete characters, yet it is still an identifiable and affecting experience in the observing of someone who never wants to stop attaching himself to the way things used to be. Ahmed lets you see through his character how hard it is for him to move on.