Trevor Wang’s review published on Letterboxd:
During consecutive adrenaline-fueled one-night gigs, itinerant punk-metal drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) begins to experience intermittent hearing loss. Sound of Metal depicts his life being thrown into freefall when he starts to lose hearing, and has to come to grips with a future full of silence.
Directed and co-written by Darius Marder, Sound of Metal is such a poignant drama that explores the worst nightmare of a musician--loss of hearing. As Ruben gradually realizes his decaying hearing, he begins to worry about his relationship with Lou, his music career and life prospects. Desperately attempting to find a cure, he seeks help from a deaf centre where community living supports all residents and school programs. After months of adapting to a new way of life and learning sign language, Ruben takes a bold decision to change his destiny, culminating in unpredictable consequences.
With fantastic performances delivered by the principal cast Riz Ahmed, Paul Raci, and Olivia Cooke, the film centres its strong focus on character development, emotions, and ideology. Ahmed is touchingly credible as a musician who loses his hearing in this impressive unconventional drama. The realistic sense of hearing loss is vividly created by stunning sound design and editing, enhanced by smart use of film editing and contrasts between sound and silence through different framing and camera angles. The viewers resonate with Ruben’s struggles and uncertainties in front of others who can fluently communicate in sign language. After the character develops the skills and knowledge of a new language, closed captions immediately appear in the middle of the film, which is enlightening and fascinating. This powerfully mesmerizing storytelling challenges the concepts of ableism and disability. Instead of portraying a deficit view of deafness, the film emphasizes it as a gift to human condition. Sound of Metal easily overcomes its trivial flaws to drum up enormous empathy and heartbreak. In the end, sometimes silence equates to tranquility and peace.