Sound of Metal

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Sound of Metal
Sound of Metal poster.jpeg
Official release poster
Directed byDarius Marder
Screenplay by
  • Darius Marder
  • Abraham Marder
Story by
Produced by
  • Bill Benz
  • Kathy Benz
  • Bert Hamelinck
  • Sacha Ben Harroche
Starring
CinematographyDaniël Bouquet
Edited byMikkel E. G. Nielsen
Music by
  • Abraham Marder
  • Nicolas Becker
Production
companies
  • Caviar
  • Ward Four
  • Flat 7 Productions[1]
Distributed byAmazon Studios
Release date
  • September 6, 2019 (2019-09-06) (TIFF)
  • November 20, 2020 (2020-11-20) (United States)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States
Languages
Budget$5.4 million[2]
Box office$514,343[3]

Sound of Metal is a 2019 American drama film directed and co-written by Darius Marder. It stars Riz Ahmed as a metal drummer who loses his hearing, and also features Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, and Mathieu Amalric.

Sound of Metal had its world premiere in the Platform Prize program at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2019. Amazon Studios released the film in theaters on November 20, 2020, and on Amazon Prime Video on December 4. The film was critically acclaimed, with particular praise for the screenplay, sound design, and Ahmed and Raci's performances. It was listed on 52 film critics' top-ten lists for 2020. At the 93rd Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Ahmed) and Best Supporting Actor (Raci), and won for Best Sound and Best Film Editing.[4]

Plot[edit]

Drummer Ruben performs in the heavy metal duo Blackgammon with his singer girlfriend Lou. They live in an RV and tour the United States performing gigs. When Ruben begins to lose his hearing, he goes to a pharmacy seeking a diagnosis. The pharmacist refers him to a doctor, who finds that Ruben has lost most of his hearing, and that the rest will deteriorate rapidly. Although cochlear implants may benefit him, their high cost is not covered by insurance. The doctor suggests that Ruben eliminate all exposure to loud noises and undergo further testing, but Ruben continues to perform.

Lou wants to stop performing for his safety, but Ruben wants to continue. She is also concerned about his sobriety, as he is a recovering drug addict. They call his sponsor, Hector, who finds a rural shelter for deaf recovering addicts run by a man named Joe, a recovering alcoholic who lost his hearing in the Vietnam War. Ruben leaves with Lou because they will not let her live there with him and he wants only the implants. Lou, anxious for his wellbeing, leaves and persuades Ruben to return to the shelter.

Ruben meets the other members of the shelter, attends meetings and settles into his new life. He is introduced to schoolteacher Diane and the children in her class, and begins to learn American Sign Language. Joe tasks Ruben with writing and sitting peacefully in an effort to make him comfortable with the silence. Ruben joins Diane's class and connects with the children and the rest of the community. He gives the children and Diane drumming lessons.

Joe invites Ruben to stay as an employee of the community. Ruben illicitly uses Joe's office computer to follow Lou's activities, and learns she is performing music in Paris. He has his friend Jenn sell his drums and other music equipment, then sells his RV, using the money for cochlear implant surgery. Ruben asks Joe to loan him money to buy back his RV while he awaits activation of the implants. Joe refuses, saying that Ruben is behaving like an addict. He asks Ruben to leave the community, as it is founded on the belief that deafness is not a handicap.

Ruben has his implants activated, but is disappointed by their distorted sound. He flies to Paris[5] to meet Lou at the home of her wealthy father, Richard. Richard confides in Ruben that though he initially disliked him, he recognizes that Ruben made Lou happy. Lou has settled into her new lifestyle and has ceased self-harming. At a party at the house, Lou and Richard perform a duet; Ruben's perception of the sound is distorted by the implants.

When Ruben tells Lou he wants to return to their music, she begins scratching her arms. Ruben tells her all is well and that she saved his life. She tells him that he saved hers too. The next morning, Ruben takes his things and leaves while Lou is sleeping. In a park, the ringing of a church bell is distorted by his implants; Ruben removes his processors and sits in silence.

Cast[edit]

Riz Ahmed portrayed Ruben Stone
  • Riz Ahmed as Ruben Stone, a drummer who loses his hearing
  • Olivia Cooke as Louise "Lou" Berger, Ruben's girlfriend
  • Paul Raci as Joe, a late-deafened and recovering alcoholic who runs a shelter for deaf recovering addicts
  • Lauren Ridloff as Diane, a teacher who helps Ruben learn American Sign Language
  • Mathieu Amalric as Richard Berger, Lou's father
  • Michael Tow as the Pharmacist

Production[edit]

Sound of Metal is directed by Darius Marder, who wrote the story with Derek Cianfrance and who also wrote the screenplay with his brother Abraham Marder. The film originated as the unfinished Cianfrance project Metalhead, which centers on a metal drummer whose eardrums are ruptured and he becomes deaf. The film featured the members of the band Jucifer portraying themselves. However, the project was later scrapped, until Cianfrance's friend Darius Marder took it up.[6] In January 2016, Dakota Johnson and Matthias Schoenaerts joined the cast of the film, with Marder directing.[7] In July 2018, Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke joined the cast of the film, replacing Johnson and Schoenaerts, alongside Mathieu Amalric.[8] Before the casting, Marder had spent 13 years vetting actors who would match his commitment to the film.[9]

A large number of the cast were hired from the deaf community.[10] For eight months, Ahmed prepared for the film by spending two hours a day learning American Sign Language, two hours a day in drum lessons, two hours a day with a personal trainer and the remainder with his acting coach.[9][11] Marder wanted Ahmed to "trust his instincts" and did not allow him to review dailies of his performance or script analysis.[9]

Sound of Metal was shot in 24 non-consecutive days from early to late 2018.[12] Marder operated on a limited budget, and shot only two takes per scene.[10] The film was shot in the Greater Boston area, primarily in Ipswich, Massachusetts. However, other scenes were shot in Boston, Lynn, Cambridge, Danvers, Framingham, Lawrence, Malden, Rowley, and Topsfield.[13][14] Filming also took place in Antwerp, Belgium.[12]

Release[edit]

Sound of Metal had its world premiere in the Platform Prize program at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2019.[15] Amazon Studios acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film the week following its premiere.[16] It was originally scheduled to be released on August 14, 2020,[1] before being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was released theatrically on November 20, 2020 and began streaming on Amazon Prime Video on December 4, 2020.[17] Sound of Metal will become a part of the Criterion Collection, with a Blu-ray and DVD release expected in 2022.[18]

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 260 reviews, with a weighted average of 8.2/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "An evocative look at the experiences of the deaf community, Sound of Metal is brought to life by Riz Ahmed's passionate performance."[19] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[20]

Sound of Metal received mostly positive reviews from critics worldwide. From The Independent, Clarisse Loughrey gave the film four stars out of five and praised Darius Marder's direction and Riz Ahmed's performance.[21] Writing for The New York Times, Jeannette Catsoulis said the film was "propelled by a distinctive style" she found to be "unusual", lending positive remarks to the film's sound design while mentioning she felt the screenplay was "underwritten and dramatically muted".[22] Critics from The Guardian also gave mixed feedback; Mark Kermode found the direction to be "astonishing verisimilitude" and noted Ahmed's "career-best performance", but while Peter Bradshaw credits Ahmed with giving "the film energy and point", he is critical of other aspects, writing that "[the story] perhaps tries to do too much", and that it "telescopes a long story into just a few months."[23][24] Furthermore, Empire critic Ian Freer said the sound design from Nicolas Becker effectively accommodated the themes in the film, and Rolling Stone journalist David Fear summarized Sound of Metal by writing that it "immerses you in a noiseless world — but it's the star that makes it speak volumes loudly and clearly".[25][26] Although enthusiastic about many aspects of the film, metal-themed website The Pit criticised the film's portrayal of metal music, stating that it is "the latest in a long line of Hollywood movies to use metal as a lifestyle that serious characters grow out of."[27]

At the end of the year, Sound of Metal appeared on 52 film critics' top-ten lists for 2020 as the ninth highest-ranked film, including first place on five lists and second place on seven lists.[28]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
AACTA Awards March 5, 2021 Best International Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated
[29]
Academy Awards April 25, 2021 Best Picture Bert Hamelinck & Sacha Ben Harroche Nominated [30]
Best Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Darius Marder, Abraham Marder & Derek Cianfrance Nominated
Best Film Editing Mikkel E. G. Nielsen Won
Best Sound Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés & Phillip Bladh Won
Alliance of Women Film Journalists January 4, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated
[31]
American Cinema Editors Awards April 17, 2021 Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic) Mikkel E. G. Nielsen Nominated [32]
American Film Institute Awards February 26, 2021 Top 10 Movies of the Year Sound of Metal Won [33]
Austin Film Critics Association March 19, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Won [34]
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Darius Marder, Abraham Marder & Derek Cianfrance Nominated
Best Editing Mikkel E. G. Nielsen Nominated
British Academy Film Awards April 11, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated [35]
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Nominated
Best Editing Mikkel E. G. Nielsen Won
Best Sound Jaime Baksht, Nicolas Becker, Phillip Bladh, Carlos Cortés & Michelle Couttolenc Won
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards December 13, 2020 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Runner-up [36]
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Won
Casting Society of America April 15, 2021 Low Budget – Comedy or Drama Susan Shopmaker, Angela Peri (Location Casting), Lisa Lobel (Location Casting), Emily Fleischer (Associate) Nominated [37]
Chicago Film Critics Association December 21, 2020 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated
[38]
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Won
Cinema Audio Society Awards April 17, 2021 Motion Picture – Live Action Phillip Bladh, Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés Navarrette & Kari Vähäkuopus Won
[39]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards March 7, 2021 Best Picture Sound of Metal Nominated [40]
Best Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Darius Marder & Abraham Marder Nominated
Best Editing Mikkel E. G. Nielsen Won
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association February 10, 2021 Best Picture Sound of Metal Runner-up [41]
Best Actor Riz Ahmed Runner-up
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Runner-up
Detroit Film Critics Society March 8, 2021 Best Picture Sound of Metal Nominated [42]
Best Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Sound of Metal Nominated
Best Use of Music/Sound Sound of Metal Won
Directors Guild of America Awards April 10, 2021 Outstanding Directing – First-Time Feature Film Darius Marder Won [43]
Gotham Independent Film Awards January 11, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Won [44]
Georgia Film Critics Association March 12, 2021 Best Picture Sound of Metal Nominated [45]
Best Director Darius Marder Nominated
Best Actor Riz Ahmed Won
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Won
Best Original Screenplay Darius Marder & Abraham Marder Nominated
Best Original Song Abraham Marder Nominated
Golden Globe Awards February 28, 2021 Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Riz Ahmed Nominated [46]
Hollywood Critics Association March 5, 2021 Best Picture Sound of Metal Nominated
[47]
Best Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Won
Best Breakthrough Actor Paul Raci Won
Best Male Director Darius Marder Won
Best Original Screenplay Darius Marder & Abraham Marder Nominated
Best First Feature Darius Marder Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society January 18, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Won
[48]
Outstanding Cinematic Achievement Sound of Metal (for its Immersive Sound Design) Won
Independent Spirit Awards April 22, 2021 Best First Feature Sound of Metal Won [49]
Best Male Lead Riz Ahmed Won
Best Supporting Male Paul Raci Won
IndieWire Critics Poll December 14, 2020 Best Performance Riz Ahmed Won
[50]
London Film Critics' Circle 2021 Actor of the Year Riz Ahmed Nominated
[51]
Technical Achievement Nicolas Becker (Sound Design) Nominated
British/Irish Actor of the Year (for body of work) Riz Ahmed Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association December 20, 2020 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Runner-up [52]
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Runner-up
Miami International Film Festival March 6, 2021 Impact Award Riz Ahmed Won [53]
Motion Picture Sound Editors April 16, 2021 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Underscore Carolina Santana, Nicolas Becker & Abraham Marder Nominated
[54]
Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Dialogue / ADR Nicolas Becker, Carolina Santana & Michelle Couttolenc Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Effects / Foley Nicolas Becker, Carolina Santana, Pietu Korhonen & Heikki Kossi Nominated
National Board of Review January 26, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Won [55]
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Won
Top 10 Films of 2020 Sound of Metal Won
National Society of Film Critics January 9, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Runner-up [56]
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Won
New York Film Critics Online January 26, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Won
[57]
Online Film Critics Society January 25, 2021 Best Picture Sound of Metal Nominated
[58]
Best Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Nominated
Best Debut Feature Darius Marder Nominated
Technical Achievement Award Sound of Metal – Sound Design Won
Palm Springs International Film Festival February 26, 2021 Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor Riz Ahmed Won
[59]
Producers Guild of America Awards March 24, 2021 Best Theatrical Motion Picture Bert Hamelinck & Sacha Ben Harroche Nominated
[60]
San Diego Film Critics Society January 11, 2021 Best Picture Sound of Metal Runner-up
[61]
Best Director Darius Marder Nominated
Best Actor Riz Ahmed Won
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Won
Best Supporting Actress Olivia Cooke Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Darius Marder, Abraham Marder & Derek Cianfrance Runner-up
Breakthrough Artist Riz Ahmed Runner-up
Best Use of Music Sound of Metal Nominated
San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated
[62]
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Won
Santa Barbara International Film Festival April 3, 2021 Virtuosos Award Riz Ahmed Won [63]
Variety Artisans Award Nicolas Becker Won [64]
Satellite Awards February 15, 2021 Best Motion Picture – Drama Sound of Metal Nominated [65]
Best Director Darius Marder Nominated
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Riz Ahmed Won
Best Sound (Editing and Mixing) Phillip Bladh, Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés & Carolina Santana Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards April 4, 2021 Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Riz Ahmed Nominated [66]
Seattle Film Critics Society February 15, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Won
[67]
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Paul Raci Nominated
Best Picture of the Year Sound of Metal Nominated
Set Decorators Society of America March 31, 2021 Best Achievement in Décor/Design of a Contemporary Feature Film Tara Pavoni and Jeremy Woodward Nominated
[68]
St. Louis Film Critics Association January 28, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated
[69]
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Won
Toronto Film Critics Association February 7, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Won
[70]
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Runner-up
Best Screenplay Sound of Metal Runner-up
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association February 8, 2021 Best Actor Riz Ahmed Nominated
[71]
Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Darius Marder, Abraham Marder & Derek Cianfrance Nominated
Best Editing Mikkel E. G. Nielsen Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards March 21, 2021 Best Original Screenplay Darius Marder & Abraham Marder; story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance Nominated
[72]
Zurich Film Festival October 6, 2019 Best Film – International Feature Sound of Metal Won [73]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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