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The Silence and the Fury: A TIFF Review of ‘Sound of Metal’

September 15, 2019Nick Armstrong

Challenging and questioning the things that bring us comfort and happiness are difficult things to do. For Ruben (Riz Ahmed) — a noise metal drummer who must cope with the sudden loss of his hearing — it is made even more complicated by his past struggles with addiction.

Being a part of a relationship that demands the majority of your time, whether romantic or professional, can warp your perceptions of yourself. Ruben, being a part of one that fits both categories, genuinely believes that his happiness depends on his girlfriend and bandmate Lou (Olivia Cooke). In the film, Lou makes the difficult call that Ruben must isolate himself from her in a deaf community in order to find peace within himself. During this time, Ruben does not cheat on her or exhibit obvious doubts, nor does she on him; but what feels uniquely real about this depiction is that Ruben genuinely believes he would not have happiness without her.

Directed by Darius Marder, anchored by Ahmed's transcendent performance, and aided by some truly inspired sound design, Sound of Metal approaches its subject matter with nuance and sensitivity, avoiding many clichés that would be easy pickings for many other filmmakers. Told entirely subjectively, it asks us to reconsider where we place the weight of wanting to find peace in life.

Sound of Metal makes its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 30 min.

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