Song to Song is a 2017 American experimental romantic drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick, starring an ensemble cast including Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman.
After a lengthy post-production period of over three years, the film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 10, 2017, and was released in the United States on March 17, 2017 by Broad Green Pictures. Critical reception for the film has been mixed.
|Song to Song|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Terrence Malick|
|Written by||Terrence Malick|
|Distributed by||Broad Green Pictures|
In Austin, Texas, Faye is a guitarist looking for success as a musician. She starts an affair with record producer Cook, hoping that he will help her. At the same time, she begins a relationship with BV, who has had slightly more success than she and is also working with Cook. Cook and Faye keep their affair a secret from BV and the three take a trip together to Mexico.
Rhonda is a former kindergarten teacher working as a waitress at a diner, where she is courted by Cook. The two eventually marry and he buys a house for her mother. Business gets rough between Cook and BV and they end their professional relationship and friendship.
Faye feels increasingly guilty about her affair with Cook, and finally tells BV, who breaks up with her. Faye then has a relationship with Zoey, a French woman living in the US. Rhonda begins to feel uncomfortable with Cook's wild lifestyle, which includes sex with other women and drugs. BV dates New Yorker Amanda for some time, but eventually they break up too.
Rhonda decides to take her own life, leaving Cook shocked and saddened. Faye and BV reconnect and start dating again. When he goes back "West" to his hometown to take care of his sick father and the rest of his family, she says that she will always love him.
Florence Welch, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, The Black Lips, Alan Palomo, John Lydon, Flea, Spank Rock, Tegan Quin, Sara Quin, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith, Josh Klinghoffer, Johanna and Klara Söderberg, Erik Sprague and Big Freedia, all make cameo appearances in the film.
In November 2011, it was announced that Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Haley Bennett had all been cast in the film. The film was originally titled Lawless, but Malick allowed filmmaker John Hillcoat to use the title for his 2012 film. The production company when the film was announced as in pre-production in November 2011 was FilmNation Entertainment and its producers were Sarah Green and Nicolas Gonda. In November 2012, it was announced that Bérénice Marlohe had joined the cast of the film, with her character being kept under wraps. It was revealed in March 2015 the title was Weightless. In February 2016, Sarah Green confirmed the title of the film was indeed Weightless, though it was later changed to Song to Song. In December 2016, it was announced Iggy Pop, John Lydon, Arcade Fire, Alan Palomo, Iron & Wine, Fleet Foxes and The Black Lips would appear in the film.
Rooney Mara said in December 2011 that filming was scheduled to begin in September 2012. That month, scenes were shot in Austin, Texas. In March 2012, Alan Palomo of Neon Indian shot scenes for the film. In October 2012, Mara, Michael Fassbender, Florence Welch and Holly Hunter were spotted on set filming. Mara said in an interview that Patti Smith shot scenes for the film, playing herself. In November 2012, Val Kilmer was spotted filming. Christian Bale only shot three days on the film.
Post-production on the film took longer than expected because the film's extensive eight-hour long first cut entailed Malick having to approach the financiers and studios more than once in order to complete the film.
In October 2013, Michael Fassbender provided voice-over that the actor said may be cut from the completed film, stating, "I'm not sure [if I'm in the final cut]. I've got to go actually and do some more voice-over ... just like reams and reams of that." Bale also expressed doubts about whether he would appear, saying in November 2013, "I unfortunately wasn't able to do everything I was meant to do, so I ended up doing like three, four days on that. Which in Terry's world means you're never going to see me in it." In January 2016, Mara revealed she did voice-over for the film.
In February 2015, Broad Green Pictures acquired U.S distribution rights to the film. The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 10, 2017. The film was released on March 17, 2017.
Song to Song has polarized film critics. It has 45% approval from 85 critics, and an average rating of 5.5/10, on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. The site's critical consensus reads, "As visually sumptuous as it is narratively spartan, Terrence Malick's Song to Song echoes elements of the writer-director's recent work -- for better and for worse." On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 53 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
In a five-star review for The Independent, Christopher Hooton claimed that it has become fashionable among critics to ridicule Malick's recent films, but that given a chance the film is a "masterpiece" and even "life-changing". In Entertainment Weekly, however, Joe McGovern derided it as "incoherent, disconnected, self-interrupting, obsessed with pointless minutiae and crammed full of odd, limp stabs at profundity [...] you’ll find yourself searching in the margins of each shot for something or someone tangible to grasp onto."
Film critic Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film two-and-a-half out of four stars. Although he has continuously praised Malick's work and style in the past ("I don't believe that the Austin-based director has ever made a bad movie..."), he expressed that Song to Song "is the first Malick film I’ve watched where the dots never came together to form a legible image", emphasizing the film's need for more "rhetorical connective tissue" that would further connect to the film's themes as well as better characterizations, more so than Malick's previous work because of the film's highly chaotic nature. Seitz concluded that the film is "a brainy concept album made up of B-sides and filler. The musicianship is superb but the songs needed work."