Song to Song


Jack Brink

Rating: R

Score: 1.5 out of 10

Let’s cut straight to the point. Song to Song, released on March 17, 2017, is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. It is truly the first movie in my life where I have watched it and found no enjoyment whatsoever. I wanted desperately to get out of my seat and leave the theater. It is pretentious, plodding, nonsensical, and everything wrong with indie films wrapped into one movie.

Directed by renowned director Terrence Malick, the visionary behind movies such as Badlands, who seems to be either overconfident off of his past successes or just growing senile in his old age to release a film of such low quality, Song to Song is an “experimental romantic drama film”. The film is set in the blaring heat of the Texas music scene where Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman’s characters all try to manage getting ahead in life and in love at the same time.

Song to Song is a horribly bland film, with a story of little to no substance, despite its interesting premise. The film features very little spoken dialogue (this is not a musical mind you), and that which is spoken are lines that are either horribly vague or completely pretentious and annoying to hear. This lack of decent dialogue and conversation hurts the film in multiple ways, most notably being that the story as a whole is very weak, with it almost feeling that there is barely a plot at all, which makes you feel like you are just sitting through two hours of colorful pictures and pretty faces. Another is that all the characters feel completely one dimensional and uninteresting. Without having a good dialogue and entertaining conversations with other characters, they are devoid of any personality, thus making them insignificant to the viewer. We have no care what happens to these characters because we don’t know enough about them or what they want to care if they succeed or fail. This is made worse by the fact that the movie features such a star-studded cast, whose talents feel completely wasted on characters where they couldn’t let their natural charm and charisma shine through.

Instead of actual sensible dialogue, the film instead tries to tell its stories through a music soundtrack that while not bad, feels horribly ripped out of some parody of an indie movie you would see on a TV show. Every song has to feel meaningful or artsy, and is set against some kind of visually stunning background (which often has nothing to do with what is going on in the film at the time). This gets old real quick, and adding this with the overly quirky actions that each character has, and the completely random and unneeded confusing cameos of famous musicians, you easily get the recipe for the most basic, mind-bogglingly pretentious paint-by-the-numbers indie film you’ll ever see. This is the kind of film people may point out when arguing against going to see an indie or small budget film.

The movie is extremely dull, and nothing spectacular or fascinating of any sort happens, with no feeling of wonder ever hitting you. You will feel uncomfortable at parts however, as with no dialogue, character interaction is dwindled down to nothing more than a constant, desensitizing cycle of repeated (while mostly not graphic) scenes of sex or affection, that really just feel weird and uncomfortable, such as the constant act of characters rubbing each other’s bellies seductively.

If there was one good thing that came out of Malick’s crusade to make the most “artsy fartsy” film of all time, it is that we got some absolutely striking visuals. While they sometimes feel random and irritatingly unrelated to the plot, the images are stunning and beautiful. The cinematography must be commended for making such a dull and miserable film look as pretty as it does.

Song to Song finished filming around 2012 and sat on the shelf for five years until finally being released now, undoubtedly trying to cash in on the skyrocket in popularity and success that Ryan Gosling has received after starring in the excellent La La Land, that also features music and show business. It’s a tragedy this boring, melodramatic, snooze-fest didn’t stay on the shelf forever.