WHAT I LIKED: Darius Marder's 'Sound of Metal,' is a beautiful character-study about a metal drummer called Ruben (Riz Ahmed) who uses his life on the road, his music, and his care for unstable girlfriend and bandmate Lou (Olivia Cooke) to ignore his inner turmoil and sobriety. He then goes deaf and ends up at a home for others in similar situations, but whilst this is presented by house-head Joe (Paul Raci) as an opportunity to fix his problems by sitting and finding "stillness," and accepting his fate as a difference rather than a disability, he struggles massively to move away from his previous distractions. When he does finally find solace in one beautiful moment at the very end of the film, it not only makes for a touching and heart-wrenching overall arc, but also makes a rather profound point about the importance of finding peace with yourself.
All of that only translates though because of how well the whole thing is executed and performed. The script slowly picks away at Ruben's character; beginning with him indulging in those distractions, having him fall apart when he looses his hearing, and then having other characters increasingly hint at the real reason he's finding it all so hard. This is all played delicately and with real nuance by Ahmed in one of the best performances I've seen in recent years, and the direction then perfectly enhances every emotion and thought that he's having without the need for him to spell it out; both from his own, and from an outside point of view.
Often when he's most stressed, the camera claustrophobically clings to his side and we hear everything just as he would thanks to expert sound design that translates a genuinely eye-opening sense of how it must feel to have difficulty hearing. Everything then perfectly cuts away from that at just right moments so that we can observe his turmoil from outside and evaluate how he might be able to live with it and find some inner peace. When he finally does at the end and sits on a bench and observes birds flying, kids playing and the sun in the sky in complete silence, it's just such a moving experience.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: For what it is, this is a perfect film.
VERDICT: 'Sound of Metal,' is a beautiful character study about a troubled guy finding peace brought to life by masterful performances and filmmaking.