SOUND OF METAL
Cert 15 ★★★★
Amazon Prime Video from tomorrow, in cinemas from May 17
It worked for Eddie Redmayne with The Theory Of Everything, Jamie Foxx with Ray, and Daniel Day-Lewis with My Left Foot. But will Sound Of Metal bring British actor Riz Ahmed a well-deserved Oscar?
In this slow-burning drama, the Rogue One star is following a well-trodden path to a Best Actor gong by playing a talented man struggling with a disability.
Ahmed, the first Muslim to be nominated for the award, stakes his claim with a finely calibrated turn as Ruben Stone, a heavy metal drummer who fears he may have to hang up his sticks after losing his hearing.
His understated performance chimes beautifully with the sound design of fellow nominee Nicolas Becker, who slowly drains the little symphonies of everyday life from the soundtrack.
In the opening scene, the whirrs of a coffee machine and the sound of a needle landing on a record score Ruben’s morning as he wakes up in his mobile home with his girlfriend and bandmate Lou (Olivia Cooke).
Soon, those sounds will be replaced by a deafening ringing followed by muffled speech and then silence. A visit to an audiologist leads him to a rehab centre where deaf Vietnam vet Joe (an excellent Paul Raci) teaches sign language and preaches acceptance.
So when Ruben starts researching experimental cochlear implants, he clashes with Joe and his hard-won stoicism.
The plot moves to the same beats as last year’s Mogul Mowgli where Ahmed played a rapper mulling over a treatment for an autoimmune condition. But this is less showy and a far more accomplished film – and Ahmed’s purposefully quiet performance is genuinely Oscar-worthy.