Song To Song
"Some films need to be watched alone. This is one of them."

Some films need to be watched alone. This is one of them.

The plot implodes into subjective nuance. It would be easy to dismiss it as a self-indulgent exercise in codswallop. Too easy perhaps. Too wrong?

Copy picture

Explanation matters less than the experience of being.

Being where?

In the moment.

What does that mean?

You don't ask. You exist. You flow. Can you flow?

Dialogue is minimal. The story is told through spoken narratives and random offshoots at a music festival in Austin, Texas.

Faye (Rooney Mara) drifts into BV (Ryan Gosling). They play. He's a songwriter. She's lost.

"I wanted to escape from every tie, every hold."

A free spirit.

Cook (Michael Fassbender) joins them. Or has he been there all along? He's a promoter, record producer, manipulator, man of the times, only the times have been corrupted by desire and exposed as a life-threatening drug.

Is this Jules Et Jim in a different milieu?

"I wanted to live. Sing my song."

The innocence of their games has an intensity that captivates.

"Do you love me?"

"Why do you ask?"

"I like to hear it."

Things change. Other girls, other men, other places. Sex is the ferret in the warren. Beauty is not painted, gymned taut, fashioned to fit.

"I never knew I had a soul," she says. "The word embarrassed me."

Writer/director Terence Malik is a maverick who was praised to the skies for his first two outings (Badlands, Days Of Heaven) and then beaten with soft nibs for not fulfilling his promise. Song To Song is the end of the line. He's saying, I don't care any more what you think.

Visually the film is a gallery of cinematic portraits, often architectural, sometimes silent, into which characters dip and dive. They have no direction, falling from grace, if grace is pure, without the benefit of control.

"I went along," she says. "Like someone in a dream."

Cook seduces a waitress (Natalie Portman) because she's there and it's a challenge. Faye is tempted. BV connects with an old girlfriend. Patti Smith is playing on stage with her new band. The world turns.

"We'd love each other forever," she said. "Love never fails."

But it does.

She is alone. She is in the crowd.

"Tell me a lie. Tell me anything."

This is a film that needs to be watched uninterrupted. Some will hate it and their feelings are loud.

Malick is uncompromising. Explanations are like whispers in the storm. You flow. That's all you can do. Let the music take you. Let the story run.

"Come save me from my bad heart," she says.


Reviewed on: 26 Sep 2017
Share this with others on...
Song To Song packshot
Modern love story set against the backdrop of the Austin music scene.


EIFF 2017

Search database: