Lee, or El Duderino, if, you're not into the whole brevity thing’s review published on Letterboxd:
"You don't need to fix anything here."
A film with a beating heart, thumping to the rhythm of self-acceptance and appreciation of what you have. And yet another terrific life-affirming film with a formidable powerhouse lead performance—throw in Riz Ahmed alongside Mads for lead recognition, as well as Paul Raci and Olivia Cooke for support. Originally penned to be a Derek Cianfrance docufiction about a band and one of its members rupturing their eardrums during a gig, Sound of Metal was eventually handed off to trusted Place Beyond the Pines writer Darius Marder. No discredit to Marder, but the Cianfrance influence surely left some residue like the morning dew—most obviously Ahmed playing a very Ryan Gosling shaped role. As a feature directorial debut, Marder and Co. show immense promise in both the static direction, the sound design and editing (another nom), and it's simplistic yet serene cinematography. While I would have preferred Ruben stick to the process in the third act, I can see his specific choice being fitting of the character. Ahmed is possibly giving one of if not his best performance to date (s/o to The Night Of, but jury is still out on Four Lions), and it's truly an emotionally gripping portrayal of someone who is losing their livelihood. I had a sneaking suspicion I'd love this film the second I saw that promo image of a tatted-up, shirtless, bleach-blonde Ahmed years back. And I can safely say, it's one of the best films of the year, and a top 5 for me. NEON really missed out on getting the distribution rights for this.
PS: More words in my Cinema Etc. Top 10 of 2020 list, HERE
PPS: I'm all for Ahmed/Cooke's metal band duo version of Crystal Castles—especially their respectively bleached hair and eyebrows.