Two Cineasts’s review published on Letterboxd:
Film reviews in 22 sentences (or less)
Today: Sound of Metal
"So, that's what I'm doing. Okay? No one else is gonna save my life. Right? If I just sit here and diddle around, what am I gonna have? Nothing. Okay? And all this shit? Like, what does it matter? What does it matter? It just passes. Yo. If I disappear, like, who cares? Nobody cares, man. Seriously. Yo, and that's okay. That's life. That's life."
(Riz Ahmed as Ruben Stone)
Hi everybody, "Sound of Metal" is powerful, intriguing and moving feature length directing debut of filmmaker Darius Marder, with an unbelievable indomitable performance from Riz Ahmed who is undoubtedly the heart and soul of the film.
"Sound of Metal" takes the audience on a trip exploring the world of those who are deaf in a captivating approach somewhere between drama and even documentary at times. Above all it does it without drifting into sentimentality or melodramatic territories, but examining what I think is a truly realistic look on the first steps of continuing living without sound in ones life: It's not only about redefining, reinventing ones everyday life, normal situations, but instead fighting against self-deception, the denial of acception, the destructive inner voice keeping away (self-) appreciation, reality and any positivity whatsoever. And it's hard, beyond hard, it's frightening, shattering, traumatizing and so much more when your body is failing and you can't trust your very own flesh and blood anymore. The film gently faces the hard truth: there are no holidays from being disabled. You can't just leave like in an argument, can't quit like in a job when everything is too much and you can't run away like from fears in confronting them - it's simply out if your hands... quite an understandably good reason to freak out; especially when your entire existence is at stake, as Ruben's life resolves around sound and thereby his passion, hobby and job. (That's why it's all the more incomprehensible when you hear that others have the only problem that there is no vacation in this special year...) This moment, when you realize it's not going to be like it used to be is heartbreaking; you will only see healthy and happy people on the streets from now on.
"Ruben, you hurt yourself, you hurt me. I'll hurt myself, too. I'll hurt myself, too."
(Olivia Cooke as Lou)
But, it opens a whole new world, and a few things might even be not that bad, as one is provided with a new look, mainly on how superficial everything is and how little the opportunities for people that are "different" (in any kind) or sometimes in our modern society. There is often not a place for individual needs and individuals per se. Illnesses, disabilities, etc. open up the way to yourself more than any course or so, as you have to deal with yourself, why you feel that, when you think this or what you really really want in life.
It's a movie after which you consider what life means to you as it is right now, perhaps even how to accept certain things or letting things go that are not as important as you thought. It is not easy to convey all these feelings without being a typical Oscar bait film and I thank the writers and the director for this approach. Where so many movies would fear to go this way of bluntness, simplicity, but empathy and depend on forcing you to cry in overly tearful scenes, "Sound of Metal" does it in such refreshingly unagitated style; like Ruben said himself "Ok. What can we do about it. How do I get it back." And Ruben or rather Riz Ahmed is a blast in deftly portraying the turmoil in which he maneuvers himself deeper and deeper in, so that we witness his anger, fear and mostly frustration. His facial expressions and especially his eyes only suggest how much pain there is in him.
The direction perfectly supports his efforts with always centering around him with a main focus on his face, but never in a way that makes you wish to see more of the surroundings. Obviously a great deal of thought went into the idea of illustrating sound and the process of losing it in the most realistic way. The problem starts right after a short examination of Ruben's everyday life, which provides everything you need to know in just a couple of seconds - show don't tell at its finest. The design of the audio, the mixing of the sound - from energetic metal music, muffled and over exaggerated sounds to complete silence - switches back and forth, in his world and back again in the viewer's. There is no score or any kind of music after the prologue and it helps all the more to focus on the brilliant sound mixing and to understand the detailed journey into the deaf community.
"Sound of Metal" keeps preying on my mind after a few days, is complex, deep, but simple, because it doesn't highlight this totally dramatic breakdown moments, like other movies with such a topic would do in great numbers and is exactly because of that and a state-of-the-art sound mixing paired with an Oscar performance by Riz Ahmed, a big recommendation for everyone who's only slightly interested.
"Ruben. As you know, everybody here shares in the belief that being deaf is not a handicap. Not something to fix. It's pretty important around here. All these kids... all of us, need to be reminded of it every day."
(Paul Raci as Joe)