TIFF review: Sound Of Metal

SOUND OF METAL PLAT D: Darius Marder. U.S. 130 min. Sep 14, 9 pm, TIFF 1. Rating: NNNNN

Riz Ahmed gets the showcase he’s long deserved in Marder’s first feature, a powerhouse character study about a noise-metal drummer trying to cope with a sudden, devastating hearing loss. 

Facing the end of his music career in the middle of a tour with his girlfriend and creative partner Lou (Olivia Cooke), Ahmed’s Ruben – who’s also a recovering addict – lands in a remote facility run by the committed but demanding Joe (Paul Raci). Ruben wants to get back to where he was Joe wants him to understand where he is, and what it means to be there. 

That essential question takes up the bulk of the film, which Marder explores by pushing closer and closer into Ahmed’s face. The assaultive, near-experimental sound design goes a long way towards putting us in Ruben’s head, but Ahmed’s performance makes us understand his character with a clarity that eludes Ruben himself. It’s a hell of a thing to see.

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