Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal ★★★★½

The first time I saw Riz Ahmed in a film was Nightcrawler, and the first time I saw him on TV was in The Night Of. He was excellent in Nightcrawler, but watching The Night Of made me realize just how great he could be. It’s so exciting when I love an author’s first or second book, or when I fall in love with a band early in their career. I can look forward to each new release and see how the artist’s style, sound, or subject matter evolves. Ahmed is fulfilling his potential as an actor, and establishing enough of a reputation to consistently land great roles. 

I’ve never seen Ahmed play this type of role, but it’s certainly well suited to some of his strengths as an actor. He can convey so much without speaking. Facial expressions drawn taught with tension, darting eyes averting eye contact, and fear that simmers just beneath the tough and aloof mask. This expressiveness was perfect for the role of Ruben, who loses almost all his hearing about twenty minutes into the film. The film’s incredible sound design enables us to hear the contrast between the normal sounds of the outside world, and the mute, muffled, or mangled  sounds Ruben hears. 

The supporting performances are also strong, especially Paul Raci as Joe, the leader of the community of deaf people Ruben is introduced to. Joe’s mentorship feels heartfelt and real, and the scenes at the school never veer into melodrama or after-school-special sappiness. Raci’s balance of empathy and firmness feels genuine and convincing, 

I’d never heard of this fairly new director before watching Sound of Metal, but hopefully this is a sign of even more interesting work to come.

2020 Ranked

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