Toronto Film Review: ‘Sound of Metal’

Variety | 9/17/2019 | Owen Gleiberman
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“Sound of Metal” is a film with a potent, searing hook. It stars Riz Ahmed, who is such a sensational actor (just watch him in “Jason Bourne” or “Nightcrawler” or “The Sisters Brothers”), as Ruben, a punk-metal drummer, heavy on the tattoos and peroxide, who has been thrashing away as part of a caterwauling noise band for so long that he’s losing his hearing. The prospect of slipping into a disability like this one sounds devastating, and in this case there’s an added emotional factor: Ruben did it to himself. I don’t mean to sound like I’m playing blame-the-victim when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll musicians and hearing loss, but since what’s happening to Ruben is happening as a result of choices he made (art choices, lifestyle choices, bleakly nihilistic I just don’t give a f—k choices), the drama of his condition amounts to — or should — some sort of reckoning.

The opening scene, with the camera fixed up close on the bare-chested Ruben during a club concert, as the guitar not-so-gently screeches, is more than a touch ominous. A little later, when he’s standing near the merch table and his hearing starts to give out, you may feel like you’re in the early stages of a real-life horror movie.

Toronto - Film - Review - 'Sound - Metal

Toronto Film Review: 'Sound of Metal'

“Sound of Metal” is a tough sit, all right, though not for the reason I expected: that we would watch — and listen to — Ruben lose his hearing with empathized agony, as if it were happening to us. There’s a little of that. The director, Darius Marder, does innovative things with sound design, creating scrapes and muffles that feel just out of reach, and he has subtitled the entire film so it can be experienced in a theater by both the hearing and deaf...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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