November 19, 2020

SCREEN | Quietly Loud – Riz Ahmed Hears the 'Sound of Metal'

"All the fear is gone."
Riz Ahmed Olivia Cooke Darius Marder | Sound of Metal | Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Studios / Pacific Northwest Pictures
British-Pakistani actor/rapper Riz Ahmed offers another pulsingly dramatic turn as a troubled musician—this time a drummer (Ruben) going deaf—in director Darius Marder's indie drama Sound of Metal. Music provides a detour to a story about an addict's recovery over a further obstacle as he learns to adapt to his new community.

Co-starring Olivia Cooke as the other half of the heavy metal duo, Sound of Metal very much embraces storytelling from the point-of-view of the hearing-impaired by employing silence, closed captioning, and other cinematic tricks to express how Ruben goes deaf. His struggle to live, create, and cope is challenged as Ahmed's quietly aggressive performance really sells the character's silent anguish.

Using an elliptical, somewhat perfunctory, and loose plot, the film feels mostly like an almost real-time, day-in-the-life journey as Ruben progresses and gets used to not being able to hear while still longing for remnants of his old life. It's a mood-piece of small character moments and expressions of deaf living while trying the unlock the dark thoughts of addicts resisting their destructive tendencies or usual coping mechanisms.

Ahmed's acting and Marder's direction in tandem make Sound of Metal in totality a fairly captivating journey by tapping into the meaningful experiences the deaf go through without hearing. By putting hearing-abled audiences into the perspective of the hearing-impaired thanks to its specially calibrated sound design, the film becomes even more meaningful and immersive. It artfully captures the stillness of life beyond the loudness of heavy metal.

Sound of Metal is available to stream on various digital platforms and through video on demand starting December 4th.


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