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Review: Powerful 'Sound of Metal' speaks volumes

Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video


Bold and filled with beautiful storytelling, “Sound of Metal” is a vivid exploration about understanding affliction, overcoming obstacles, and cherishing the ability to hear and appreciate words. Director Darius Marder’s gets audiences in the mindset of what Ruben - our protagonist - hears, which in this case is pure unfiltered silence. 

There’s the old saying of you don’t know what you have until it’s gone and for Ruben (Riz Ahmed like you’ve never seen him) it happens suddenly and without warning. He’s helping set up his band’s next gig – he’s the drummer – and suddenly the sound around him vanishes. The audiologist proclaims he’s got less than 20% hearing and must work diligently to preserve what he’s got. Not exactly ideal for a musician whose world is doused in loud rock music. His other half, Lou (Olivia Cooke – remarkable) insists on visiting a retreat near Missouri that specializes in deafness. 

Ruben doesn’t want to face the challenges ahead, and his inability to see that makes him blind to reality. But as “Sound of Metal” progresses, Ruben sticks with the rehab program and meets a community who care about his sobriety (he was a drug addict four years prior) and understand adjustments that come from hearing loss. It’s an endearing journey where Ruben connects with himself for arguably the first time in his life. He attends classes to learn sign language and sets aside time each morning to write down his thoughts, trying to find that moment of stillness his sponsor, Joe (Paul Raci) preaches. Marder goes to exceptional lengths to provide an authentic experience: Raci is not only a Court Certified American Sign Language interpreter, he’s the lead singer for HANDS OF DOOM, a band that performs in ASL.

Like Raci, who has a quietly profound supporting turn, Ahmed is a marvel. We knew he could carry the weight thanks to “The Night Of” and “Rogue One,” but his transformation throughout “Sound of Metal” is a fierce reminder of his commanding screen presence. Likewise for Cooke, whose performance shouldn’t go unnoticed, as Lou is the anchor to Ruben’s recovery and without her, his path to redemption falters. Most importantly, it’s a reminder of how our identity isn’t defined by our personal struggles. For a movie that doesn’t say much, the message within “Sound of Metal” is loud and clear. 

Grade: B+ 

SOUND OF METAL is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video


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