Prime Video movie of the day: Sound of Metal will teach you how to hear without listening

 Riz Ahmed sitting at a drumkit in Sound of Metal.
Riz Ahmed sitting at a drumkit in Sound of Metal.

Sound of Metal is a stunning cinematic achievement. Many of us take our senses for granted: sight, taste, touch, smell and of course, sound, which is at the forefront of this drama. For protagonist Ruben Stone, the loss of his hearing causes his life to spiral out of control.

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As a drummer in the avant-garde metal duo Blackgammon alongside his girlfriend, he relies on his hearing every single day, and when he realises it’s deteriorating rapidly, his sense of self starts to suffer. After all, when your livelihood and your relationship is propped up by your ability to hear, what happens when that suddenly disappears?

Riz Ahmed shines as Ruben, who struggles with his diagnosis and tries to continue performing, even though his concerned girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) tries to stop him. It is an intimate portrayal of a person getting to grips with a life-changing thing, one that’s difficult to look away from.

The sound design is the most impressive thing here, though, as it is the absence of sound that is as impressive as the music itself. It gives viewers the opportunity to experience what Ruben is, an experience that can be upsetting, jarring and eventually, hopeful.

A standing ovation

Sound of Metal received largely positive reviews at the time of its release, with many critics praising the filmmakers for making a story that really balanced the different tones to give us deeper insight into Ruben’s life.

Mark Kermode said in The Guardian: “A film that deserves to be seen by the widest possible audience, reminding us of cinema's unique ability to challenge, entertain, uplift and unite.”

“Darius Marder's film is just as much the story of an awakening – a man's learning to listen, and to value a certain kind of stillness – as it is about the surface-level crisis of being suddenly struck deaf.” The Telegraph’s five-star review added.

Finally, Entertainment Weekly said: “As Ruben's fear and rage begins to open itself to the unknown, the movie reaches toward something profound – finding real, furious power in the spaces between the sound.”

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