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#TIFF19 Review: Sound of Metal (Platform)

September 9, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Ruben (Riz Ahmed) is the drummer in a heavy metal band, and he’s in a relationship with the lead singer, Lou (Olivia Cooke). But Ruben’s career in music is threatened when he starts experiencing ringing in his ears and then completely loses his hearing.

Worried that he might relapse after having struggled with addiction for years, Lou finds a supportive housing unit for him to stay at that is specifically for those in the Deaf community, run by an older man named Joe (Paul Raci), who is Deaf and reads lips. But Ruben finds himself stuck between the hearing and non-hearing worlds, with his plan to save up enough money to get cochlear implants putting him at odds with other members of the Deaf community.

Written and directed by Darius Marder, who also wrote the screenplay for Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines, Sound of Metal is a pretty good film that has a lot to admire about it, but it falls just short of greatness. The film feels overlong at more than two hours, which lessens some of its impact, and I feel like a tighter edit may have helped. But it’s carried by a very solid performance from Ahmed, who fully commits himself to the leading role, as well as strong supporting turns from Cooke and Raci.

The film also features some great sound design to simulate the feeling of hearing loss, notably utilizing both loud and quiet moments to help get us inside the head of the main character, even plunging us into complete silence at certain points. Marder also deserves major credit for consulting members of the Deaf community, and casting several Deaf actors in supporting roles.

Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal

Public Screenings:

Friday, September 6th – 9:00 PM at Winter Garden Theatre

Saturday, September 7th – Elgin Theatre

Saturday, September 14th – 9:00 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

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