Riz Ahmed delivers one of the year’s finest performances in Amazon Prime’s The Sound of Metal as Ruben, a heavy-metal drummer who suddenly loses the last part of his hearing after a concert. On tour with his singer-girlfriend (Olivia Cooke) and living out of their RV, Ruben suddenly finds himself deaf, with no preparation or warning.
Disoriented and justifiably frightened, Ruben winds up in a charitable residence, where he tries to get his act together and figure out his next steps. Four years sober and in danger of using again, Ruben is taken in by Joe (Paul Raci), who does his best to counsel him. Slowly, Ruben begins to cope—but coping is just the first step of many difficult and life-altering steps.
This is the feature-directing debut of Darius Marder, who does an amazing job not only with the performances, but with the film’s soundscape. There are moments in this movie when you will question your own hearing—because we often hear the muffled world into which Ruben has been thrust. Marder and his audiophiles do a convincing job of putting the viewer/listener inside Ruben’s head.
Raci, a hearing actor who grew up with deaf parents, is the film’s major find. He’s sincere and moving as an alcoholic veteran who has dedicated his life to helping others.
Ahmed, always a solid actor, goes next-level here—and should find himself in contention for Oscar and other year-end honors. He’ll break your heart via a screenplay that strays from obvious answers and has no real road map. The Sound of Metal is easily one of the year’s best movies.
The Sound of Metal is now streaming on Amazon Prime.