The Academy Award for Best Sound generally goes to bombastic action-oriented movies like 1917, Dunkirk, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Gravity—movies that deserve it because their sound designs help the viewers feel as if they are right in the middle of the action. Hopefully, the Academy will recognize the drama Sound of Metal because its sound—or lack thereof—is essential to the film's story and its protagonist.
Sound of Metal concerns Ruben (Riz Ahmed), a drummer in a heavy metal band who suddenly loses most of his hearing. His girlfriend and singer of the band, Lou (Olivia Cooke), immediately gets him help at a camp for deaf people. Ruben, however, has other plans, like an expensive operation that he hopes will restore his hearing.
Sound of Metal is a little predictable story-wise, but what makes this far superior to the typical TV-movie-of-the-week is a complex, not-always-very-likable main character created by director/co-writer Darius Marder, an intense performance by Ahmed, and a great sound design by co-composer Nicolas Becker. We do get to hear what little Ruben can hear, which is nothing but low, muffled sounds. Becker makes Ruben's sudden loss of hearing very realistic and very scary.
Sound of Metal is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
*** Stars (Out of Four)