Many independent movies are performance driven and there is no doubt that the new film on Amazon Prime this week, Sound of Metal, is one of those.
Heavy metal drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) is losing his hearing. He heads to a school for the deaf to try and salvage his life before he could schedule a surgery for an implant that might save his hearing.
It is a simple story with a unique and compelling performance from Riz Ahmed at its center. We experience each moment of his life as Ruben does, through his anger and frustration and then to his eventual acceptance and it is powerful. Riz Ahmed brings such a humanity to the story and you find him easy to root for, even if he is not sure exactly what he wanted.
There are some amazing scenes at the school for the deaf with Ruben and Joe (Paul Raci), the head of the school. Everything that happens here is understandable and provides Ruben with a support that he needed to truly understand what was happening to him.
The sound editing in this movie is next level genius. The audience is presented with the ways that Ruben is hearing and the use of sound is amazing, as is the lack of sound. The audience is placed in the same situation as Ruben and they find themselves as uncomfortable as he is as he progresses with the different levels of his deafness.
Olivia Cooke is good as Ruben’s girlfriend Lou and she does provide some important support for him in the first half of the movie. However, she disappears until the end and does become irrelevant to the story. That is because this story is Ruben’s story and Riz Ahmed is up to the task.
Directed by Darius Marder, who has spent most of his career working on documentaries, he brings a style to Sound of Metal that feels like a documentary. He provides a strong foundation for Ahmed’s sparkling performance.