mystericrow’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sound of Metal was an emotional and spiritually rejuvenating experience that was a whole lot more interesting than I had expected. Due to this film's connection to the heavy metal genre, a genre I absolutely despise, I wasn't particularly excited for this. Thankfully that's only really a factor for the first ten minutes of the movie, with the rest just being a very grounded and tragic character piece.
So Sound of Metal has been nominated for six Oscars and I think it deserves almost every one of those. However, where it deserves the win is with the sound design which is just off-the-charts. I haven't experienced sound design this unique and inspired for years, and I am intrigued to see just how they managed to achieve this so well. The film follows a heavy metal drummer called Ruben who's life starts to fall apart when he begins to lose his hearing. We see the film from his point of view, and because of this we get to experience his descent into complete deafness firsthand, and the sound design contributes to that greatly. There are moments of muffled anger or complete silence that blew me away and the first half hour when he's not sure what's happening is very disconcerting. It would obviously be a terrifying experience to seemingly spontaneously begin to lose your hearing, and the direction pulls that together perfectly. The film is written and directed incredibly well also. The dialogue, and often lack of it, is fantastic and engrosses you in this world incredibly well. The way deaf people communicate is a very important part of the story, and the script reflects all of this incredibly well.
Riz Ahmed is amazing in the lead, definitely deserving of his Oscar nomation, and I personally feel that Olivia Cooke has, once again, been massively snubbed as she once again proves herself as one of the best actors of the generation. I will say that I don't particularly understand the nomination for Paul Raci who is good, but nothing special at all. However, everyone else killed it and I would not be surprised if Ahmed wins.
My problem with this film is in its pacing and structure. The first and third act of this film are incredible, each lasting about half an hour each. The first act is an incredibly unnerving, subtly terrifying look at the experience of slowly losing your hearing. There is this subtle sense of repressed panic and hopelessness that permeates the entire thing, and I found myself on the edge of my seat for the entire first act. The third act on the other hand, went for much more subtle emotions, providing some beautiful scenes and possibly the best final moment of the year. However, that second act is where this film's problems lie. About half an hour through, Ruben joins a deaf community and lives there for a bit. While never dull, this part of the movie felt way too long. It never really felt like any real progress was being made in this section, whether in the character arcs or the plot, and by the beginning of the third act our protagonist seemed to be in exactly the same place as the end of the first. It's by no means a drag - the dialogue is still fantastic and the direction flawless - but it just feels overlong and a little unnecessary to the overall plot.
Despite an underwhelming second act though, I still loved Sound of Metal. This was such a good film, and one that had me considerably moved by the ending. I do think it could have benefitted from being trimmed down by maybe 10 or 15 minutes, but overall it's definitely another great film for best picture.
NB: Unfortunately I don't currently have access to The Father, the last Best Picture Nominee I need to see, but I guarantee I will watch and review it as soon as humanly possible, which will probably be some time next week.
🔙 Judas and the Black Messiah
🔜 City Lights