Sam Blackman’s review published on Letterboxd:
You really can't discuss Sound of Metal without highlighting two things: the brilliant performance of Riz Ahmed and the film's incredible sound design by Nicolas Becker. Directed by Darius Marder, Sound of Metal is a film feels as much like an experience as a movie. It is told with both sensitivity and realism, and provides a fascinating insight into lives and experiences that feel so far removed from most.
Riz Ahmed is superb in this film. He is full of boundless energy, rage, hope and passion and wears it all on his sleeve. His character, Ruben, is not always likable. He's often needlessly aggressive and almost childlike in his inability to comprehend his situation. In Ahmed's hands, it still feels impossible not to root for him. He's all edges, but Ahmed rounds them off enough to make a compelling character. Paul Raci gives a warm and magnetic performance, and deserves the accolades he has been receiving so far. It is not a flashy performance, but Raci brings an essential humanity to the table that grounds every moment in which he appears. Olivia Cooke is also fantastic here, going toe to toe with Ahmed in some of the film's most powerful moments.
As for the sound design, I must admit this is probably a filmmaking aspect I've given little thought to. It feels almost revolutionary in Sound of Metal - it is such an essential component. It allows us to truly feel what hearing loss actually sounds and feels like. It is deeply immersive. I don't have a specific enough understanding of the technical aspects of sound design to go in depth, but it is without doubt one of Sound of Metal's major strengths and makes for a powerful experience.
Sound of Metal is a truly original film and one of the most compelling stories put forward in 2020. Although I found that faltered somwhat in the last half an hour (before rallying for a brilliant final scene), it is thought provoking and provides an excellent showcase for an actor he simply does not command the attention he deserves - I definitely hope to see Riz Ahmed take on more challenging roles such as this.