Riz Ahmed has always been one of the best actors working today, but this film will shoot him to mega stardom and hopefully an Oscar win. It’s an extraordinary performance of big muscles on stage, but minimalist gestures such as hand movements when doing Machaton. You live, breathe and feel like a deaf man because of Ahmed’s performance. It’s also refreshing that his Asian heritage is never mentioned. You focus just on the character, not his race.
Olivia Cooke pumps up crack addict power as Lou. Her petite, fulsome prettiness is covered by a lack of make-up and baggy eyes. You really get the sense she is suffering as much as Riz. Her and Riz’s relationship is the beating heart of the film and they have a really good sex scene.
Newcomer Paul Raci is every bit as good. I especially liked the lack of synchronicity between his hand machaton gestures and his mouth movements. It gives an effect similar to a movie dubbed in a foreign language - an off-kilter effect that comes to the forefront during a recovering drug addict scene outside a rehab centre. He and Riz have a great friendship.
The scenes of sign language have a jarring, alienating quality. I especially liked the scenes where Riz first wears a hearing aid and the screeching, the sound of silence and the humming sense of disrepair are all at full-throttle volume. You feel like you’re wearing a hearing aid yourself.
This is spectacular, sensory cinema - a sensory assault on the senses. It has three terrific performances and will boost its star to A-list status. Let the Oscar campaign for Riz begin!
‘Sound of Metal’ is on Amazon Prime now and is in cinemas from May 17th.
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
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