Review Riz Ahmed Proves Six Oscar-Winning Sound of Metal to Be the Best Actor of His Generation

British actor and rapper Riz Ahmed is absolutely credible as an American hearing-impaired drummer in Sound of Metal, who takes the viewer into the world of the deaf with his stunningly original sound design.

Premiere: April 12, 2021. (Amazon), 4/30/2021. (cinema)
Original name: Sound of Metal
Directed by Darius Marder
Screenplay: Darius Marder
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci
Length: 121 minutes
Age limit: K12

Director-screenwriter Darius Marder tried to get Sound of Metal for about ten years before it was funded. It’s no wonder, as the premise and technical side of the film hardly sounds appealing to the ears of very many mass men. Despite its name, Sound of Metal only hears lullabies in a couple of scenes, but most of the time is spent in complete silence, without normal background sounds or music. An essential part of the story of a drummer who loses his hearing is subtitling, which cannot be turned off.

The film goes straight to the point. Couple and noiserock duo Ruben (Ahmed Rice) already Lou (Olivia Cooke) are somewhere in America on stage playing their loud noises. Both are dry heroin addicts for whom making music is a substitute, but also a job. A couple who rent a motorhome at home Earn a living by touring. Ruben whines in his ears and after one performance he suddenly hears little more.

After the tests, it turns out that he has lost at least 8o percent of his hearing. Everything sounds as if he is several meters deep underwater, trying to hear the sounds of the world above.

The film sounds the same in the viewer’s ears as Marder puts us inside Ruben’s head. With stunning sound design, Sound of Metal offers the opportunity to experience the world with an almost deaf human ear. Nothing is clear from people’s speech, but the low bass frequencies are felt all the way to the chest. The director tears without warning the viewer to watch the world of the film again from the outside, making, for example, only the surrounding sounds of nature such as birdsong or the wind sound loud but wonderful. There’s no extra sound involved, and no introductory music that underscores what the viewer should feel. Scenes recorded with normal sounds really make you appreciate your working ears.

Anxious Ruben doesn’t have time to venture back into the world of hard drugs, as Lou finds a nursing home in the middle of nowhere for her. It is run by war veteran Joe (Paul Raci), which makes it very clear that the idea of ​​the place is to learn to live as a deaf person.

Ruben is initially right in the yard among other residents who communicate with each other in sign language, but eventually accepts his situation, at least in part. Most of the Sound of Metal is located in a shelter in the middle of the woods, but Ruben misses his earlier music-filled life that an expensive inner ear implant would make possible.

Towards the end of the film, Ruben ends up in yet another completely unfamiliar place in search of Louta from Paris after an inner ear surgery that makes the world sound like a metallic, aching treble. The city’s background noise rolls over the conversations, and the hearing restored by the instrument has nothing to do with normal hearing.

The film doesn’t directly say that living in deafness is a better option than surgery, but it seems to be strongly on its side. The sound world provided by the inner ear implant is creepily distressing, and the nursing home’s idea of ​​living deaf supports this as well.

Sound of Metalia has already been performed in some theaters in Finland as previews, but the official premiere is at the end of this month. The film will be available as early as tomorrow, Monday, April 12, for Amazon Prime Video, but if at all possible, then it’s definitely worth watching in the theater. At home, the movie works best with good quality headphones on your ears, without any outside interference. Amazon may offer the ability to watch a movie without subtitles, but by no means turn them off, as hard-of-hearing subtitles are an integral part of a movie.

I bet when I saw the film for the first time last fall at the Portland Film Festival that it would get Oscar nominations for sound design, editing and best male lead. That’s what happened, but Sound of Metal is also nominated for Best Picture – and Original Screenplay, in addition to which Paul Raci was nominated for Best Male of the Year. Known mainly for his TV roles, Raci is a great choice for the role of Joe, as he is a child of deaf parents and, of course, has spoken sign language since childhood.

Starring the best of HBO The Night Of series and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Yes Nightcrawler Riz Ahmed, familiar from movies, now proves to be one of the most skilled actors of her generation. He doesn’t make Ruben’s role through the easiest, but plays it with small gestures.

Anxiety, restlessness, fear, and all the other emotions rumbling inside Ruben’s head can be seen on his face. The role of a drug-addicted drummer who loses his hearing would be much easier to act by mecca, shouting out his worldview generously, raging, crying, and throwing things. Ahmed doesn’t break up places, but makes Ruben a completely credible real person. The man doesn’t play air drums, but restless hands tell of the longing for the drumsticks.

Englishman Ahmed learned American sign language for his role and rehearsed drumming for half a year for just a few gig scenes. As long as the film ever arrives for wider distribution, I recommend watching the star of Ahmed as well. Mogul Mowgli -leffan, which was performed in Finland last autumn at the Love & Anarchy festival. It’s a sister film to Sound of Metal, as in Mogul Mowgl, Ahmed plays a British rapper suffering from a serious illness. Of course, that role helps he’s also really a British rapper performing under the name Riz MC.

Even the special power tools used by Sound of Metal do not seem like a gimmick at any point, but are naturally functional in their originality. The technical side supports the film’s story and gives Riz Ahmed the space to do one of the best roles of his career.


“Resting on the shoulders of Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal is a wonderfully low-key drama full of great emotions, a credible growth story whose protagonist’s anxiety and fear are perfectly conveyed to the viewer.”

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