Cert: 15 Runtime: 129 mins Director: Terrence Malick Cast: Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett
The world wants to be deceived
From watching the trailer for Song To Song sometime ago I thought to myself, Malick has made a movie with structure! Then came SXSW and how wrong was I. After watching Knight of Cups last year I knew I was in for a headache, an artistic headache. Malick is a difficult film-maker to critic in my humble opinion. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on the plot. Song To Song is by far Malick’s most stellar cast and probably this will be the main appeal of the film. So what is Song To Song about? Set against the Austin, Texas, music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling), and music mogul Cook (Michael Fassbender) and the waitress (Natalie Portman) whom he ensnares — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.
It’s a film about the characters and their constant battle with themselves. The things we don’t see, the hell that goes through one’s mind, when one is suffering. They are struggling to get better, but it’s so sad because we know they won’t. They can’t get out. It’s about the spiritual journey of the characters and not so much about the story. It only goes where the character goes emotionally. Malick doesn’t care about the world around the characters or the society. The only worlds “well build” in the film are the character’s worlds. That’s why the V.O doesn’t seem like a technical intervention. It is the core of this beautiful, nostalgic and emotional poem to the ones who are “destined” to suffer. Malick depicts relationships in terms of fleeting moments that constantly move in and out of our consciousness, never quite tangible enough to grasp or provide satisfaction. Continually seeking their heart’s desire, the characters only slowly realize the emptiness of the promise. Underneath their search for connection, there is a spiritual longing that can be sensed but not understood.
Emmanuel Lubezki’s photography has an ethereal flow and a great eye for wide shots and tracking shots and utilises both of those to brilliant effect in Song to Song. There was also a great soundtrack throughout the film that had no rhyme or reason and most of the songs were completely different from one another but they are meant to evoke emotions inside of both the characters as they are going through current events, and the viewer. The message of this movie is that a song can evoke a memory or emotion from a past time, but you may not know that seeing the film. It is tough to grasp but that is what makes Malick’s movies so brilliant. It is like staring at a moving painting for two hours and trying to discern what it is about. Two people may have very different ideas of what is going on and that is why many of Malick’s movies are either hated or loved.