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Song to Song Review

"“A glimpse of traditional Malick, but still awry from his pinnacle”"

The remembrance of past love is disorganized – patterns are derived where reality did not create.  This combination creates a ripe platform for storytelling; one that would fit Terrence Malick’s style well.  His most recent film, Song to Song, explores the emotionality of artists within the Austin music scene.  Malick’s projects can be difficult to comprehend, but an emotional spectrum functions similarly.  Logic does not exist nor does structure follow.  Unfortunately, the majority of the film’s audiences won’t follow either.  The lack of structure will not negate the creativity nor the artistic direction noted within the film’s frame.  Fans of Malick will appreciate the film’s mindset, but may not fall in love with the sum of its parts.

Rooney Mara and Ryan Gosling in Song to Song.

The narrator, Faye (Rooney Mara), brings you into the center of her love triangle with BV (Ryan Gosling), another local artist, and Cook (Michael Fassbender), her manager.  Additional triangles form multiple Venn Diagrams, as Cook has a symbiotic relationship with a waitress (Natalie Portman), and BV somewhat moves in parallel with a wealthy woman (Cate Blanchett).  Each subject radiates a unique character set that stretches these triangles into obtuse (or perhaps acute) angles, depending on the direction in which their story is told.  Malick drifts through the entangled web of the characters’ emotional courses.  The “chronicle” of these romances is a form of spiritual cleansing.  We are not given much in linearity, but when do emotions ever work in such a fashion?  This film is an expression.  We are privileged to be let in.

Malick is often on the edge of dishevelment within his genius.  His style is to film first and formulate later.  Song to Song represents the embodiment of being an artist – whereby its creator has the fluidity to create.  As with most abstract form of art, the target audience lies within the extremities.  Some may become lost within the lack of a rigid structure, while others may thrive in the creative ideological playground.

Rooney Mara and Ryan Gosling in Song to Song.

Malick could have reached a wider audience if he hadn’t chosen to take a more muddled path.  A more solidified foundation would have added depth within the layers in which each character projects to the audience. This would give something for the audience to grasp onto throughout the film.  These relative focal points allow the audience to better gauge the variances within the character’s movement between art and reality.
I am conflicted with this approach, as it belittles the intensity of the characters.  There were moments in the film that I could briefly feel their understanding as to the gravitas of their warped existence. Such knowledge was quickly transposed with augmented distortions.  The lack of a different angle rather enforced the depth in which each character lay within their self-imposed war zone.

This film feels disjointed, but taken in context, it is appropriate.  It is easy to become wrapped in an emotional journey – even to the point where reality is difficult to further construe.  Instances of hardship are distorted to where the term loses its meaning.  Such a creative spectrum creates a disconnect between those who are more firmly grounded; hence the potential lack of support from the film’s audiences.

Song to Song is no better than how one allows himself or herself to perceive it.  The cinematography is beautiful.  The camera angles are paramount of Malick’s iconic touch.  The artistic integrity surpasses all expectations.  The collection of subparts; however, is broken.  But so are the characters in which the film projects.  Malick chose his path.  It is difficult not to honor it.

Rating
7.1
Pros
  • The cinematography is exemplary - a signature of Malick's work.
  • The best film in Malick's recent lineup.
  • Val Kilmer's cameo is absolutely hilarious.
Cons
  • The film is blurred and disjointed (with reason), but it creates a disconnect with the audience.

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