Sound of Metal – a moving and heartfelt film

In Darius Marder’s moving and heartfelt film, Riz Ahmed plays an American drummer whose life, and career, is sent into a tailspin by the sudden offset of deafness. Ironically, there is very little Metal beyond the first five minutes, as the film instead concerns itself with Rubin Stone’s struggle with his new reality.

A recovering addict, Stone settles at a retreat run by Joe, brilliantly played by Paul Raci, and here we see him first rebel, then grow, as Marder’s script and direction showcases a loving community of mutual support. The possibility of a new and meaningful life beckons, but not content with a formulaic resolution, Marder takes the narrative in unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable directions. Like the underrated 2016 British masterpiece Notes on Blindness, there are no hero or villains to speak of. We are instead invited to empathise with Stone’s impossible dilemma, as we are plunged into his world of silence, mitigated by cacophony, superbly realised by Nicolas Becker’s sound design, for which he won an Oscar.

This is very much Ahmed’s film – he remains the centre of attention throughout – and this is his finest performance to date. In his words, “the deaf community taught me what it means to listen.”