Riz Ahmed bursts onto the screen in the very first second of Sound of Metal, full of a confidence backed up by an even louder – almost uncomfortably loud – soundtrack, and his journey towards silence will leave you hooked.
Darius Marder’s flick has racked up six Oscar nominations ahead of this Sunday’s ceremony, including the coveted best picture – and a best actor tip for Riz.
The film, available to watch on Amazon Prime or in cinemas from next month, follows heavy metal drummer Ruben (Riz), who performs in a band with girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke). His world is flipped upside down when he loses most of his hearing after a performance, waking to realise he can only make out the odd word.
Despite this, the musician – who is also a recovering heroin addict – insists that he can battle through his condition to finish their tour, so he can earn enough money to pay for hearing implants – costing around $80,000 (£57k).
Lou isn’t convinced, and persuades him to move into a sober community that specialises in deaf addicts, run by war veteran Joe (Paul Raci). But how much will Ruben take to his new lifestyle?
Sound of Metal isn’t a comfortable film, with viewers snapping between the crashing drums of Ruben’s stage show to being plunged straight into silence. But it’s really not meant to be comfortable, and it’s here where Riz shines through the quiet.
Riz Ahmed is sublime in the Sound of Metal (Picture: YouTube)
Paul Raci has been nominated for best supporting actor for his role of Joe (Picture: Amazon Prime)
He adds an endearing quality to his jittery, sombre performance of the musician, whose desperation for his former life guides him through every second. We’re there for every beat of it – from the moments before his hearing goes, to a clumsy exchange with a pharmacist as he tries to communicate his problems.
Paul stuns as community leader Joe, and has more than earned a best supporting actor Oscar nomination alongside his co-star. But, seeing as parts of the character were rewritten to mimic his own story, as a Vietnam war vet, this comes as no surprise.
A lot has been said about the casting, concerning the representation of the deaf community on the big screen. Paul, who grew up with deaf parents, heaped praise on director Darius on his portrayal of people who are often ‘kicked aside’ in Hollywood.
During a candid interview, he told us: ‘To portray the deaf community with authenticity, with deaf actors in this deaf sober house was the most important thing in the world for me, for Darius, and even for the deaf community.
‘They’ve come up to me afterwards and said, “Thank you for portraying us as deaf addicts”. You would think, “Why would they say thank you?” That’s a dark side, a dark underbelly. Because of the misportrayals that they’ve had.’
Sound of Metal faces some stiff competition at the Oscars this weekend, but giving a platform to a community who aren’t always represented in Hollywood will mean a lot more to those involved.
Sound of Metal is available to stream on Amazon Prime now, and will be released in cinemas on May 17.