TCFF 2020 Reviews: The Sound of Metal

It was only my second time back inside a theater since March, but I caught one of the Twin Cities Film Fest in-person screenings yesterday. The Sound of Metal, a film distributed by Amazon Studios, is set to be released theatrically on November 20th, and will stream on Prime Video in December 2020. The film stars Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke as Ruben, a drummer and his girlfriend Lou, a singer in the punk metal band Blackgammon. They live in their airstream trailer between gigs and make a living while on tour of metal bands. Ruben, a former heroin addict and metal head, starts out in euphoria as he furiously jams out on his drums as Lou screams the lyrics to their songs. Soon thereafter, Reuben gets a slight ring in his ears, which turns into a full blown dull roar. It leaves him only able to hear all surrounding noises muffled beyond recognition.

The situation that Ruben and Lou are in leaves them no choice but to put their tour on hold as Ruben seeks help for his newly diagnosed hearing loss. When Lou leaves in a cab to catch a flight, Ruben heads to a deaf community, headed by the calm and cool Joe (Paul Raci), who tells Ruben that he reads lips. Joe, a former addict himself, also tells Ruben that he lost his hearing in Vietnam War but he insists that he and everyone living at the deaf community believe that their deafness is not a handicap, but rather a tool to build community around. Soon enough, Ruben is immersed in this deaf community and even learns sign language and makes friends with others around his age and even some deaf kids, who are supervised and taught in the classroom by Diane (Lauren Ridloff – a deaf actress who I remember with fondness from AMC’s post-apocalyptic series The Walking Dead).

Ruben is determined to return to “being inside the sound” and is found at odds with Joe, who is a religious man. Ruben, a self-proclaimed atheist, doesn’t understand when Joe tells him “those moments of stillness, that place, that’s the kingdom of God. And that place will never abandon you.” He acts on his desires and tries to reconnect with Lou, but by that time, his ability to grasp his life-altering change has completely changed the kind of person he is. Even when he is given the chance of some hearing, he is much more at peace and relishes the stillness of his new-found life. Riz Ahmed brings inspiration and passion to his performance, but his ability to showcase the character’s vulnerabilities make this portrayal very real and believable. Olivia Cooke brings a sense of loss to her character (we learn something about her mother in the movie) and how singing in a punk rock band helps her cope with her circumstances. Director Darius Marder also does a great job putting his audience in Ruben’s head, hearing — or not hearing — everything as it happens.

The film features closed captioning throughout the film which helps us as viewers understand everything happening from start to finish. I can see The Sound of Metal competing for some awards this year, especially for Riz Ahmed’s performance as the confounded punk metal band drummer. This film adds to a growing list of strong films from Amazon Studio that will have limited theatrical releases and also stream on Prime Video in late 2020 or early 2021, including other Twin Cities Film Fest titles Herself, Uncle Frank and Sylvie’s Love.

The 2020 Twin Cities Film Fest has ONE pass available for purchase that you won’t want to miss out on. The All Access STREAMING Pass will give you access to all of our 70 films for only $50, that’s less than $1 per movie! This pass can be used as many times as you would like during the 10 days of the festival (October 22nd-31st) on our streaming platform and website.


(Only Available to Sponsors, Donors and Members – Reservation Required)

Friday Oct 30th
Phyllida Lloyd – 6:30pm
Uncle Frank, Alan Ball – 8:30pm

Saturday Oct 31st
, Chloé Zhao – 6pm and 8:30pm

To learn more about TCFF, events, film submissions or to donate, visit

2 thoughts on “TCFF 2020 Reviews: The Sound of Metal

  1. Pingback: JANUARY Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month – FlixChatter Film Blog

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