DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Sound of Metal

Deep dive into the headspace of a metal drummer gone deaf, in this finely crafted American drama with an impressive sound design - in cinemas and VoD

This is one of the very best films to come out during the pandemic—in fact, because of the pandemic the film probably has had a bit more attention than it normally would have, as in a crowded year it could have been lost in the shuffle. It’s a small movie with two known actors, but no huge stars. It would have had some acclaim in any case, but circumstance has luckily gained it more of an audience.

The film has an unusual genesis: it came out of a project that director Derek Cianfrance had been working on for quite some time about a metal drummer who goes deaf. It was called Metalhead at the time, but The Place Beyond the Pines (Cianfrance, 2012) co-screenwriter Darius Marder took the project over as his feature film debut and changed the name. Sound of Metal stars Riz Ahmed as Ruben Stone, a young man who is the drummer for a metal/punk band called Blackgammon, and his girlfriend and bandmate Lou (Olivia Cooke). Ahmed is best-known as the lead in Four Lions (Chris Morris, 2010).

Ruben and Lou are living a hand-to-mouth existence in a caravan, traveling around the US and playing gigs. Suddenly, most of Ruben’s hearing is gone. He sees a doctor, and finds out that he is rapidly losing his hearing and will become deaf. Cochlear implants may help, but his insurance doesn’t cover them. His doctor suggests eliminating all exposure to loud noises, advice that the initially doesn’t follow. He is also a recovering drug addict. His girlfriend eventually finds a rural shelter/recovery place for deaf addicts. He is very reluctant to go, but Lou basically ditches him there, and he has to come to terms with his deafness.

Both leads are outstanding. Most of the acclaim has been for Ahmed, but Cooke is a talented young actress who delivers an electrifying performance. The actress is barely recognisable. She shines throughout, particularly in a reunion scene near the end of the film. Stage, television and film actor Paul Raci plays a deaf Vietnam vet who runs the shelter. Raci was himself a Vietnam veteran and is also the son of deaf parents, making him fluent in ASL. The perfect fit for the role. He may be in his 70s, but he’ll be getting a lot more work after this, the biggest role he’s ever had in a film. Unsurprisingly, he earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. Veteran French actor Mathieu Amalric also turns in a good performance as Lous father.

The film has a fantastic sound design that immerses you into the headspace of Ahmed’s character – it will probably win best Sound Design at the Oscars. I would be very curious to see what it’s like in a cinema. The sound drops in and out, and you definitely feel what it’s like to have those implants, which are not necessarily pleasant. Sound of Metal is very clever. It expertly uses subtitled ASL in selected scenes once Ruben learns sign language. To boot, the ending is flawless, giving the film an effective and unsentimental payoff.

Sound of Metal is in cinemas on Monday, May 17th. On all major VoD platforms on Monday, May 31st.

By Ian Schultz - 23-04-2021

Ian Schultz is a film writer based in Leeds, where he runs Psychotronic Cinema. He has been writing about films for about eight years, with articles and reviews appearing in Little White Lies and Live...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More

Mogul Mowgli

Bassam Tariq

Dan Daniel - 12-10-2020

British-Pakistani rapper on the cusp of a career breakthrough has to grapple with a very powerful and unexpected enemy within - on VoD on Friday, November 6th [Read More...]

The dazzling colours of British-Pakistani rap


Dan Daniel - 12-10-2020

The American-Pakistani director of Mogul Mowgli talks about his second feature film, the story of a rapper having grapple with a very unexpected enemy within [Read More...]

Our dirty questions to Shaun Dozier


Eoghan Lyng - 11-04-2024

The director of The Problem of the Hero, a drama about two American playwrights grappling with racism and misogyny 80 years ago, discusses the deceptive language of theatre, steering away from the "truth", the importance of "offending" viewers, how power relations have changed, and much more - in exclusive interview [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *