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Darius Marder
Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci
Darius Marder, Abraham Marder
A heavy-metal drummer's life gets thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.
Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 121 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 9/27/2022

• Conversation with Filmmakers Darius Marder and Derek Cianfrance
• “Sound Design” Featurette
• Music Video
• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• Trailer
• Booklet


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Sound of Metal: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 13, 2022)

2021’s CODA won the Best Picture Oscar with a story of the deaf community. The prior year, Sound of Metal got a Best Picture nod, as it looked at issues related to hearing loss too, though from a different perspective.

In a heavy metal duo called Blackgammon, Ruben (Riz Ahmed) drums and his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) sings. As they tour, Ruben starts to encounter serious hearing difficulties.

Unsurprisingly, this sends Ruben down an unhappy path, but he agrees to engage with a deaf community run by Vietnam vet Joe (Paul Raci). Ruben struggles to cope with his new circumstance.

Here comes a movie to which I can relate – well, somewhat. While I would love to drum, I don’t own a kit yet, much less tour in a band.

However, after more than 1100 concerts across my years, I do understand hearing issues related to live music. Actually, my overall acuity remains largely fine, but tinnitus has dogged me for more than a decade.

Still, I’ll take my mild ringing in the ears over true loss. I can imagine how miserable Ruben’s auditory fate would be, so I find it easy to involve myself in the story.

Well, in theory. Despite these circumstances, Metal doesn’t really engage, mainly because it meanders down a path that lacks much depth.

Metal does start out pretty well, especially in the way it depicts the impact of Ruben’s deafness. As his hearing loss becomes more obvious, this sets the character onto an existential crisis.

Which makes complete sense. Ruben’s world revolves around music, so if he loses that, he no longer knows his own identity.

After this opening act, though, Metal tends to follow a more trite path. We’ve seen a lot of similar movies in which someone experiences a major life shift, struggles to cope and eventually finds peace.

Metal fails to do much new with these concepts, and this makes it more trite than I would prefer. We don’t find much unusual about it and it lacks the real introspection it needs, as we don’t get a great sense of who Ruben is.

Ruben goes on a journey that he doesn’t really seem to earn, so he changes and grows without much obvious reason. It also doesn’t help that the movie’s attempts at Ruben’s darker side fail to connect.

Metal wants to be about an addict but it doesn’t portray Ruben well in that light. He never comes across as unhinged or erratic or even especially needy.

Cripes, Ruben makes lovely breakfasts for his girlfriend! He doesn’t feel like someone damaged or desperate, no matter how much the film wants us to view him that way.

Add to this a mawkish and trite finale and Metal disappoints. While it occasionally offers involving drama, too much of it feels predictable and one-dimensional.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus C+

Sound of Metal appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a solid presentation.

Sharpness largely worked fine. The occasional interior felt a smidgen on the soft side, but no prominent issues developed and the movie largely appeared accurate.

The movie displayed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. Light grain appeared through the film, and I saw no print flaws.

Sound opted for a fairly natural palette, with only a mild tilt toward a bit of blue and amber. The colors didn’t leap off the screen but they displayed a look appropriate for the story and worked fine.

Blacks seemed deep and dense, while shadows felt smooth and clear. The image worked well.

Though not a dazzling soundtrack in a traditional sense, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio acted as a strong method of involvement for the viewer. The mix allowed the audience to step into Ruben’s shoes and get a sense of the impact of his hearing loss.

This meant the soundscape varied from vibrant and involving to minimal. All five channels helped immerse the viewer in the themes and domains, so while the track lacked the kind of slam-bang one might normally expect from movie audio, it nonetheless seemed like an excellent soundfield.

Quality satisfied as well, with speech that came across as natural and concise. Music showed strong range and clarity.

Effects fit the material and appeared accurate and vivid. This mix came with different goals than most soundtracks to which I award an “A-“, but it achieved these so well I thought it deserved a high grade.

A smattering of extras appear here, and a Conversation with Filmmakers Darius Marder and Derek Cianfrance starts the set. It goes for 29 minutes, five seconds and looks at the project’s roots and development, shooting on film, story/characters, cast and performances, themes and various connected domains.

Expect a pretty good examination of the topics here. I don’t think Marder manages to develop his ideas as well as he believes, but I appreciate the overview.

Sound Design runs 25 minutes, 19 seconds and features Marder and sound designer Nicolas Becker.

As expected, the program examines the audio featured in the film. It gives us good insights about the appropriate areas.

Next comes a Music Video for Abraham Marder’s “Green”. Darius Marder offers a two-minute, 56-second intro to the song, which appears over the end credits.

The video itself melds the music with unused/alternate movie footage. It becomes a moderately interesting piece.

In addition to the film’s trailer, a Behind the Scenes featurette lasts 14 minutes, 10 seconds and brings notes from Darius Marder, Becker and actors Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci.

The piece covers the film’s development, story/characters, cast and performances, sound design, sets/locations and the shoot. Apparently created to promote the movie’s Oscar chances, it comes with a few insights, but it also repeats a lot from prior pieces, so don’t expect a lot from it.

The package concludes with a booklet that brings art, credits and an essay from critic Roxana Hadadi. It finishes the set on a positive note.

Unusually for Criterion, all the video extras include English subtitles. This feels like a nod toward the film’s story but I hope they continue this practice with all their releases.

As a tale of how a sudden disability impacts a person reliant on hearing to thrive, Sound of Metal occasionally connects. However, too much of it feels trite and the film becomes less engaging as it progresses. The Blu-ray comes with strong picture and audio as well as a decent set of supplements. I like aspects of the movie but find it to lack consistency.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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