Sound of Metal

Darius Marder's directorial debut is a powerful depiction of deafness and Deaf culture, anchored by a searing performance from Riz Ahmed

Film Review by Charlotte Little | 24 Mar 2021
  • Sound of Metal
Film title: Sound of Metal
Director: Darius Marder
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Mathieu Amalric
Release date: 29 Jan
Certificate: 15

Sound of Metal is a visceral and immersive experience about community, acceptance and stillness. Over three acts we follow Ruben (Riz Ahmed), a heavy metal drummer whose hearing begins to deteriorate rapidly, as he embarks on an emotional journey, grappling with rage, identity and closure. After four years of sobriety, Ruben's bandmate and girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) fears he will relapse, so the pair leave behind their tour and nomadic lifestyle to travel to a rural addiction facility for Deaf people. There they meet Joe (Paul Raci), a recovering alcoholic who lost his hearing in the Vietnam War.

Director Darius Marder has crafted a profound story about deafness, intimately exploring the nuances of hearing loss and the many degrees of deaf identity that have been hidden away from the screen, and wider society. The integration between sound design and perspective enriches this character study, with the film's presence of captions cementing both the film's narrative and genuine advocacy for access.

Ahmed and Cooke deliver quietly devastating performances, with Cooke’s empathetic character a catalyst for the pivotal moments in Ruben’s journey. The consultation and inclusion of Deaf talent, such as Lauren Ridloff, emphasises the significance of authenticity in the storytelling of deaf experiences. This dedication to realism is integral to the film's first-person narrative, and the innovative soundscape enables both Ruben and the audience to find stillness in silence.

Released 29 Jan by Vertigo; certificate 15