Jordan Williams’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sound of Metal is such a compelling tale of the human experience and how daily functions are taken for granted. The first few minutes are so poignant: the cracking of his knees during squats, hearing his drum sticks lightly tap his girlfriend’s arms, the powder jar hitting the table, the coffee dripping in the pot. So many ways that we know something is functioning correctly because of the minute sounds that accompanies them.
Riz Ahmed is absolutely incredible in this film. He’s become a movie star, even having a pivotal role in Star Wars’ Rogue One, but I believe his charm is that he doesn’t feel like a movie star. He feels like a normal guy that I would see getting drinks at a bar downtown. His character isn’t a manic drummer who loses his hearing because of irresponsible choices, he’s a metal drummer who loses a vital function that happens to be the vehicle through which he experiences his passion.
Even through all his frustration, Ruben learns how lucky he was to have even been able to experience all of the sounds he did for the last 20-something years. When he meets the children at the deaf community, he has to teach them what drumming is like through vibrations because they’ve never experienced it before. Just like the saying “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all,” Rueben is grateful for the sounds that made him who he was despite all of the frustrations that come from losing them. The sting right after losing it makes him wish he had either never heard or could regain it, but it’s amazing how more introspection allows him to appreciate having vital senses and a community as a second home.
The most upsetting part is when he gets the surgery with such hope that his life will go back to “normal,” and all it does is make it worse. It’s interesting that the happiest he was in the course of the film was when he was in his community speaking sign language and playing with the kids. He felt his life had no meaning and no one would care, but he personally touched more people in that small amount of time than he had before or after. His whole life was dependent on Lou before his deafness, but he learned to be independent and that there’s more than just solitude - even if that means silence.