Sound of Metal

Critics Consensus

An evocative look at the experiences of the deaf community, Sound of Metal is brought to life by Riz Ahmed's passionate performance.

97%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 195

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 734

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Movie Info

During a series of adrenaline-fueled one-night gigs, itinerant punk-metal drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) begins to experience intermittent hearing loss. When a specialist tells him his condition will rapidly worsen, he thinks his music career — and with it his life — is over. His bandmate and girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) checks the recovering heroin addict into a secluded sober house for the deaf in hopes it will prevent a relapse and help him learn to adapt to his new situation. But after being welcomed into a community that accepts him just as he is, Ruben has to choose between his equilibrium and the drive to reclaim the life he once knew. Utilizing startling, innovative sound design techniques, director Darius Marder takes audiences inside Ruben’s experience to vividly recreate his journey into a rarely examined world.

Cast & Crew

Mathieu Amalric
Richard Berger
Jamie Ghazarian
Concert Goer
Michael Tow
Pharmacist
Tom Kemp
Dr. Paysinger
Darius Marder
Screenwriter
Abraham Marder
Screenwriter
Fredric King
Executive Producer
Daniel Sbrega
Executive Producer
Dimitri Verbeeck
Executive Producer
Daniël Bouquet
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for Sound of Metal

Critic Reviews for Sound of Metal

All Critics (195) | Top Critics (41) | Fresh (189) | Rotten (6)

Audience Reviews for Sound of Metal

  • Jan 05, 2021
    Sound of Metal is quite possibly the number film of 2020. I know the pandemic has slowed Hollywood's usual push for the award season but Sound of Metal would've been in the competition regardless. The film is anchored by raw performances and it's unlike anything you'll see, it's refreshing to see an original film. I had been skeptical that the film would elevate to the heights of the acclaim surrounding it but it does. The support cast ensure this feels real and in the moment, and the lead performances push this into something incredible. Riz Ahmad was wasted in a film like Venom and it's a shame Hollywood spits these actors out with thankless roles. Olivia Cooke continues her successful transition from Bates Hotel and she has managed to surround herself with strong filmmakers and actors. This is a must-see for 2020. 04/01/2021
    Brendan O Super Reviewer
  • Dec 31, 2020
    I don't think I've better empathized with hearing loss and deafness than with Sound of Metal, a moving and observant drama about a heavy metal drummer quickly losing his sense of hearing. Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) plays Ruben, a former junkie who is four years sober and worried about losing his girlfriend/band mate (Olivia Cooke) with his recent diagnosis. He's attending a treatment center meant to cater to a deaf community and transition others into this community. Ruben is defiant, depressed, angry, all the stages you can imagine with grief. The movie is at its best during its quiet and contemplative moments where we empathize with the terror and alienation of Ruben. When he first joins the center, we don't get subtitles for the many signed conversations between members. It's only after Ruben learns ASL, integrates into the community, and opens himself up to the program that we too get to be knowledgeable. The sound design is exceptionally utilized to illustrate Ruben's changing perspective, and some later choices with it might make you long for the peacefulness of silence. The movie is exquisitely thoughtful and considerate while maintaining a subtle, character-driven approach that keeps things grounded from wallowing in self-pity. For many of the deaf, hearing loss isn't seen as a disability but a community with its own culture and quality of life. It's understandable that Ruben is focused on loss but the movie doesn't dwell in loss, more so transformation and acceptance. Ahmed is fabulous in the lead role which requires him to rely primarily upon non-verbal expression for extended periods. His eyes are his best vessel for communicating Ruben's emotional state, and Ahmed is sensational. Paul Raci is also great as the leader of the treatment center and the responsibility and generosity he feels to those in his care. Sound of Metal is an immersive, sensitive, authentic and poignant drama with an Oscar-caliber lead performance and a depth of compassion for the many people of the deaf community. Nate's Grade: B+
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Dec 22, 2020
    Evocative as hell, ‘Sound of Metal' gets high marks for using the medium to maximum effect in illustrating metal drummer Ruben's grapple with imminent deafness. The sound design is astounding; it captures the alienation, the disorientation, and the discovery of his circumstances in ways I couldnt've imagined and the effect is exciting, terrifying, and heartbreaking all at once. Riz Ahmed nails the behavioral sand traps that keeps someone clinging and clawing at the bubble they're fixated on preserving. The tumultuous lengths to which he will go to combat his deafness echo his heroin addict past; I tragically saw much of Ruben in someone I used to know. We can all be soul-deep addicts in our own way to something or another in our lives and the pain and confusion when you feel like you are being ripped from your identity can be all-consuming. How do you battle for air when you're violently drowning? This profound journey says a lot all at once and Darius Marder (alongside his brother and Derek Cianfrance) brilliantly scripts an arc that works on multiple levels - allegorically, spiritually, technically, humanely, all the ways. What often moved me throughout this was not necessarily what I was seeing directly on screen, but the implications of it all. It's invigorating to see the thriving lives and relationships of a deaf community credibly explored and Paul Raci is memorably tender as Joe, the recovery leader and beating heart of the tight-knit society. His performance, alongside Ahmed and Olivia Cooke - who's coping with her own aching past - screams awards consideration. 'Metal' captures well that for Ruben, like so many of us, you can't be pushed to someone else's vision of acceptance; the truest form is a result of your unique, albeit stumbling journey, when you evolve organically from the steps (and missteps) you take. It's a long, difficult road, but Ruben shifts the narrative of his life from bemoaning what he's losing to embracing what he's gaining. Moving, eternal stuff. And the closing shot encapsulates a catharsis well-earned.
    Marisol M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 19, 2020
    How many times does a movie hit so close to home that your life seems to be literally displayed in front of your eyes. Not many. My Story (Review Below) I lost my hearing in my right ear in my early 30's. Some weird thing they can't cure called Meniere's Disease. 20 years later and three months ago, my good ear started crapping out and I was told I have bi-lateral Meniere's. Not good. I wasn't a drummer (practiced to be one though). I went to metal/rock shows before COVID, and I wear ear plugs now when I go. I can't personally speak to what it's like to be in the music business, but I can speak to what it's like to go deaf all of a sudden. Just as in the movie, I wake up and hear a loud humming with everything else a dull murmur. Even my own voice. I was told hearing aids could help -- I was lucky that I had a family benefactor who offered to pay for the best of the best as they are not covered by insurance. And they helped -- a little, but for the price they barely did squat. Sounds were shrilly like you had an AM radio with a bad speaker in your ear. I need to put subtitles on all movies I watch these days. But having trauma in your life reminds you of the importance of connections. Friends and family that support you, or people you barely even know -- like my Letterboxd friends in the comments section. What a great community we have here. Sound of Metal Review I went in without reading the byline, expecting an expose on life in the hard rock music business. Instead it's a tragic situation of the young drummer of a metal band, played fantastically by Riz Ahmed, who goes deaf. The acting is fantastic. Riz Ahmed is great as usual but reaches a new level . His girlfriend Olivia Cooke is unrecognizable with the bleached eyebrows, moving refreshingly from trash horror movies to a fantastic dramatic effort. There's more to say but I need to digest this more and possibly do a rewatch. Amazing.
    Mark B Super Reviewer

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