SOUND OF METAL (2019) Reviews and overview

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‘Music was his world. Then silence revealed a new one.’

Sound of Metal is a 2019 drama film about a noise rock drummer’s life that is thrown into freefall when he loses his hearing.

Directed by Darius Marder from a screenplay co-written with Abraham Marder from a story by Derek Cianfrance, the movie stars Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke.


During a series of adrenaline-fueled tour gigs, itinerant noise rock drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) begins to experience intermittent hearing loss. When a specialist tells him his condition will rapidly worsen, he thinks his music career — and with it his life — is over. His bandmate and girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) checks the recovering heroin addict (four years clean) into a secluded sober house for the deaf in hopes it will prevent a relapse and help him learn to adapt to his new situation.

However, after being welcomed into a community that accepts him just as he is, Ruben has to choose between his equilibrium and the drive to reclaim the life he once knew. Utilizing startling, innovative sound design techniques, director Darius Marder takes audiences inside Ruben’s experience to vividly recreate his journey into a rarely examined world…


Sound of Metal is a movie about addiction hidden inside a movie about a different kind of recovery. Ahmed walks a line, portraying Ruben as a sensitive, intelligent man who is nevertheless liable to succumb to his own boiling fury, not because he can no longer hear but because he’s lost the illusion of control.” Battleship Pretension

“As written, Ruben is far from the most articulate guy in the world– there’s probably a reason he found an artistic outlet that relies on pounding rather than words– but thanks to Ahmed’s soulful presence, we are never in doubt of what he’s feeling. Sound of Metal is often devastating, and it ends on a deliberately unresolved note, but it is far from a hopeless film. When Ruben is at the halfway house, the camaraderie and support he finds among the community there is truly heartwarming…” Boston Hassle

“Sound of Metal” is a great film that presents a powerful and emotional story. Although the movie may feel like it drags at certain points, it manages to pick itself up through the relevancy of those portions. Nothing is really wasted in the film and it flows naturally towards its conclusion. The sound design is so crucial to the atmosphere of the world and is executed with near perfection.” Irish Film Critic

“The film is a great character study, and also a great examination of a way of life. As Joe tells Ruben, those that live at the house don’t view themselves as having a disability. Ruben struggles to admit this himself as he is so dead set on getting implant surgery and returning to his “normal” life when, in reality, embracing this community is the best way to achieve that sense of normalcy.” Movie Babble

“None of this would be as effective if it weren’t for Ahmed, who is terrific here in capturing Ruben’s rage. He’s not the most likable character in the world, but then he doesn’t really need to be. That’s not the point; actually, this would be a less believable movie if he were a saint. Marder, and likely us as well, would be inclined to wonder why someone so good could have something like this happen to them.” Punch Drunk Critics

“Given that it’s both an addiction and disability film, Sound of Metal goes through a variety of standard story beats, but Ahmed’s frustrated, funny performance breathes life into a tired structure. He conveys Ruben’s evolution from pained skepticism to begrudging acceptance like a true professional, never once skimping on the explosive anger or stunning disappointment of a guy who has had to deal with new sets of obstacles his entire life.”

“The formal language it creates – its acoustic recalibrations and distortions (the supervising sound editor is Nicolas Becker) – allows Marder, rather ingeniously, to manipulate narrative through shifting points of view in terms of hearing. An ambitious melodrama that only occasionally veers into maudlin territory, Marder’s first non-documentary feature brings out a career-best performance from Ahmed and refreshingly brings something new to the table without falling into gimmick.” Sight & Sound


Sound of Metal arrives in select theaters November 20, 2020, and on Prime Video December 4, 2020, in the U.S.


This trailer purposefully includes captions (just like the film itself) so that hearing and non-hearing audiences can experience Ruben’s journey.

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