Title – Sound of Metal (2019)
Director – Darius Marder (feature debut)
Cast – Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Mathieu Amalric
Plot – Drummer Ruben Stone (Ahmed) has his life turned upside down when he begins to lose his hearing, putting in jeopardy his future plans and relationship with long term girlfriend Lou (Cooke).
“The world does keep moving, and it can be a damn cruel place”
Review by Eddie on 11/12/2020
Quietly building away on an increasingly impressive filmography that first gained traction with cult comedy classic Four Lions and has continued on with important supporting roles in the likes of Nightcrawler, Star Wars: Rouge One and The Sisters Brothers and a notable lead turn in hit HBO mini-series The Night Of, Sound of Metal is the culmination of years of hard work by British based actor Riz Ahmed who delivers one of 2020’s most notable individual feats of acting in Darius Marder’s hugely impressive feature debut.
At one stage rumored to be a directional project for one of the films key drivers/story developer Derek Cianfrance, Metal has finally found its way into the public sphere after years of gestating and the wait is certainly worth it as Marder explores the life of Ahmed’s heavy metal drummer Ruben Stone, who seemingly out of the blue finds himself dealing with deafness, shattering his plans in the musical business, driving a wedge between himself and his long-term partner Lou (another nice turn from rising star Olivia Cooke) and bringing up past issues his had with addiction.
One of the most all-encompassing films I recall seeing in recent memory when it comes to examining a character dealing with a sudden handicap and an insightful and respectful delving into a world where sound can’t be taken for granted, Marder and his on task crew, with special shout outs to all involved in the films sound design/editing and cinematographer Daniël Bouquet, help create a stunningly realised world in which Ruben finds himself in that turns from nomadic gig-filled lifestyle to a life on a farm/rehab facility for those with deafness run by Paul Raci’s kind-hearted Vietnam vet Joe.
In some ways Metal follows a familiar narrative arc of ones journey of self-discovery and acceptance but nothing about Marder’s film or Ruben’s journey plays out in exactly the way in which you would expect and throughout it refrains from grandstanding moments as it instead focuses on quiet but powerful character interactions and movements that will have you enthralled throughout, culminating in a particularly moving final stretch that is all at once heart-breaking and uplifting.
Front and centre throughout this journey is Ahmed and while Cooke and Raci are both on point here, Metal allows Ahmed’s naturally charismatic and naturalistic acting style time to shine and its hard to think of a more fully realized performance this year when you sit back and witness and later on ponder the momentous work of Ahmed.
Dedicating himself to the role and inhabiting Ruben with a care and grace, despite the troubled souls many failings and flaws, this is a career-defining turn from Ahmed and one that you would hope is a genuine chance at Oscar glory.
Final Say –
A heart-wrenching and heart-warming drama that is powerfully lead by a once in a lifetime performance from Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal is a unique drama that overcomes any of its genre trappings to deliver one of the years most memorable and searing offerings.
4 1/2 squished donuts out of 5