“The Sound of Metal” Review



Riz Ahmed stars as drummer who loses his hearing in “The Sound of Metal.”

The Sound of Metal, starring Riz Ahmed and directed by Darius Marder, is a film about a metal drummer named Ruben whose life descends into disarray after he abruptly loses his hearing. You may think it sounds a bit like Whiplash (another famous film about drumming), but this film is less about the drumming and more about Ruben’s life after drumming. It is produced and distributed by Amazon, making it available on Amazon Prime video.

I felt that this movie was fantastic, and I can say it is now one of my favorites. From the get-go, there is a whirlwind of emotion being thrown at you as the protagonist’s life begins to crumble. The emphasis on sound and silence creates an atmosphere of dissonance as Ruben gets tossed into a life which is, in a lot of ways, the opposite of what he once knew. The movie uses a clever trick of cutting out the sound whenever the camera is focused on Ruben, and when it cuts again to a scene with audio, it sounds incredibly chaotic. Everything about the sound work in this film is stunning, and is definitely not something that I’ve heard before. Having not experienced hearing loss or Deafness myself, I couldn’t tell you how accurate it is, but it conveyed the right messages and emotions to me. I can also say that every single actor does such an amazing job, especially Ahmed. This is the first film I personally have seen him in, but he makes the whole thing so believable it’s hard to remember he’s acting, particularly in the scenes where he’s discussing his hearing loss with others, and getting frustrated at his inability to communicate very well. The movie, in my opinion, would not be the same without him. It wouldn’t have the same effect, or give the same pangs of empathy for something you’ve never experienced yourself (unless you’re Deaf that is). 

The Sound of Metal is not a technical marvel, and there’s no insane cinematography or costume design, but it’s such a human experience that you can’t help but be invested in the whole story. It’s quite beautiful how the mood changes from chaos to discomfort, and discomfort to peace, and back again. Though you can slowly feel the loss of hope, it’s a bit more bittersweet than it seems. That feeling acts more as a series of realizations. The realization that not everything is going to be the same as it was before, and that’s just fine. And with the hopelessness comes a certain happiness that wasn’t there before. Keeping this completely spoiler free, the ending is one of the most blissful moments I have ever seen on screen. It’s the same feeling as when you’re sitting on a porch surrounded by the forest in the middle of the summer, or when you’re just walking outside and gain a sudden appreciation for everything around you. If I were to take one thing from having seen this movie, it would be that sometimes change is inevitable, no matter what you do, and it’s still going to come. Not everything works out, and life is not anywhere near perfect, but that’s okay. Even in the hardest of times, you will find your peace.

Rating: 9.5/10