Published On: Sun, Apr 11th, 2021
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Sound Of Metal: Riz Ahmed is the first Muslim nominated for a Best Actor Oscar | Films | Entertainment

In recent decades, so many actors have won Oscars playing men with disabilities that you wonder if it’s time to invent a new category. But this is a very different performance to Joaquin Phoenix’s exuberant 2020 winning turn as a mentally-ill Joker. After heavy metal musician Ruben suffers sudden hearing loss, Ahmed uses those big eyes to communicate fear, frustration and rage bubbling up behind a bullish facade.

This 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 uses bigĀ Cooke).

Soon, those sounds will be replaced by a deafening ringing followed by muffled speech, 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.

But when Ruben starts researching experimental cochlear implants, he clashes with Joe and his hard-won stoicism.

If you saw Ahmed play a rapper with an autoimmune disease in last year’s Mogul Mowgli, this may sound familiar. But this is a far more affecting film. In an Oscar-worthy performance, this hugely talented actor doesn’t play a bum note.

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