This film was previously reviewed in April 2021 for its digital release.

Early on in Sound of Metal, a group of deaf addicts sign a prayer that’s common in 12-step programmes: “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It’s a well-known phrase, but here it rings particularly true. Written and directed by The Place Beyond The Pines screenwriter Darius Marder, the movie treats its protagonist’s deafness not as an obstacle to overcome, but simply a new state of being – one in which he can find a supportive community, if he can allow himself to accept it.

Riz Ahmed is astonishingly good in the lead role. Actors often play to the cheap seats in these kinds of roles, but Ahmed plays Ruben Stone as a man almost visibly vibrating with the effort of keeping his frustrations in check as he works through the stages of grief. It makes the moments when he does become overwhelmed feel all the more impactful. There’s a hard-headedness to Ruben’s approach to deafness that echoes The Diving Bell and the Butterfly‘s take on locked-in syndrome – a parallel that becomes all the more evident when Mathieu Amalric appears in an unexpected third act diversion.

Even without such an assured lead actor, Sound of Metal would still be a triumph thanks to the incredible score and sound work from Nicolas Becker. The droning score and muffled audio in the first act perfectly convey Ruben’s feelings of terror and isolation – and yet by the end, the silence feels not just serene, but relieving.

Sound of Metal is that rare movie that tackles disability without wallowing in trauma or turning into inspiration porn. With a sensitive screenplay, superb sound production and a career-best turn from Riz Ahmed, it deserves every award coming its way.

RATING: 5/5   


CAST: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, Mathieu Amalric

DIRECTOR: Darius Marder

WRITERS: Darius Marder, Abraham Marder (screenplay by); Derek Cianfrance (story by)

SYNOPSIS: A heavy-metal drummer’s life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.