Bruce Tetsuya’s review published on Letterboxd:
In the past I've only reviewed films on here that I'd feel comfortable rating a 10. While Sound of Metal isn't quite there, something about it left me compelled to write. A short letter of appreciation to so many nuanced lessons and themes on life, in a package I wasn't at all expecting to learn from...
This is not a movie about metal. It's not even a movie about music. In such a brilliant trojan horse move, this piece sneaks in a completely refreshing story and message. I was moved to tears by the end. Such a simple yet brilliant and effective use of sound design, both in the alienating effects, but also in how it eventually gives power to silence. In a way, I took this as a much needed reminder about the form of cinema itself. Much too often are films focused on radical visuals and mind-blowing plot twists, when all you REALLY need to create a resonating experience is a shot-reverse-shot. Cutting two images. Holding on one. No sound needed. No light-speed dialogue, or VFX... Just genuine emotion, and care put into the details.
Sound of Metal follows a traditional framework, but I honestly never once felt it, or felt like I could (or wanted to) predict what would happen next. Everything unfolds so naturally, and a huge part of that is thanks to the two leads, Riz Ahmed & Olivia Cooke. I never once saw either of them as anything but their characters in this movie. They both disappear so beautifully into the roles. I don't want to say too much else, to avoid soft spoilers, but this movie simultaneously broke my heart, and stitched it back together again. While this "review" does sound like I should have rated it higher, I did have a couple problems with the pacing at points, and by no means would call this a game changer. But what it does is almost more important - it recalls the point of the game in the first place. It seeks to remind us that at the end of the day, a good story with good characters will outshine any pretentious attempt at reinventing "the wheel". Sound of Metal will most definitely make my Best of the Year list.