Oh wow. Okay, so where do I begin?
I suppose in order to talk about my impressions of this movie, I’d have to talk about the man helming the project, Terrence Malick. People seem to be awful split about the guy. Often times, his movies break the rules of how to structure a story and how they’re told. Some seem to call him one of the most inspired modern directors, others say he makes two hour long screen savers. Myself, I can’t call myself a fan or a hater. Why? Because I’ve not seen many of his films. I think I enjoyed myself well enough when I saw KNIGHT OF CUPS (2016), but notice how I say “I think.” I confess to not remembering too much of it, and told myself that I’d be open to seeing more of his work in the future. However, I do remind myself that I have heard of his films before, particularly TREE OF LIFE (2011). It sounded exactly like the kind of movie I wouldn’t enjoy. A man is… abusive to his kid? Something about the birth of the universe and dinosaurs? I don’t know how I’d feel about that, but I can immediately see why people are mixed about him.
In this particular case… yeah, it looks like it’d be shot like KNIGHT OF CUPS. Lots of close-up shots of everyone’s back, hand-held camera, something about romance, whimsical rolling around in a bed with bed sheets taking the form of inflatable tube men… yeah, I think I’ve seen this movie before. I just need to get into the right mind-set for this film. Also… looks kind of pretentious, but I guess we’ll see.
Anywho, give the guy credit, he knows how to gravitate star power to him, so let’s see who he’s recruited this go ’round. Starring, we have Michael Fassbender (THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS , PROMETHEUS , 300 , and the upcoming ALIEN: COVENANT ), Ryan Gosling (LA LA LAND , CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. , MURDER BY NUMBERS , and the upcoming BLADE RUNNER 2049 ), Rooney Mara (LION , CAROL , and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO ), and Natalie Portman (JACKIE , THOR: THE DARK WORLD , BLACK SWAN ). I gotta say, I love Fassbender when he’s great, but he does seem to have a checkered list of credits ranging from mediocre films to great. Not the biggest fan of Gosling, but I have no issues with him as an actor. Not overly familiar with Mara, but I’ve been entertained by the few performances I’ve seen of her. A somewhat fan of Portman. She’s got a career full of ups and downs, and even recently tried her hand in directing with A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS (2016). It wasn’t the best film, but she’s got talent in that field and I hope she tries again someday. Other talents in this film include Cate Blanchett (KNIGHT OF CUPS, CINDERELLA , BLUE JASMINE , and upcoming films THOR: RAGNAROK  and HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD ), Holly Hunter (BATMAN V SUPERMAN , THE INCREDIBLES , O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? , and the upcoming INCREDIBLES 2 ), and Val Kilmer (THE PRINCE OF EGYPT , HEAT , TOP GUN , and its upcoming sequel TOP GUN: MAVERICK ).
Now for behind the scenes. I already went on about my tangent of Malick, who wrote and directed the film. So that just leaves the cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, known for KNIGHT OF CUPS, BIRDMAN (2014), and GRAVITY (2013).
Overall, I don’t think this is going to be something I’ll enjoy, but who knows? You know what they say about judgment and covers of books.
This is my honest opinion of: SONG TO SONG
Following the story of four people and their interconnected relationships; the forging of friendship and lover cut down by lies and guilt.
Ugh!! Okay, out of the way, I DO NOT like this film at all.
Immediately as soon as this movie started, I’d swear to God someone just started up a reel of KNIGHT OF CUPS. I know I’m probably hanging on the similarities here, as I’d wager most of Malick’s movies are like this, but as it’s the only one I’ve seen in recent years – I haven’t seen THE NEW WORLD (2005) since it came out on DVD and I don’t remember it – I have little else to compare it to. Not to mention, as I said, the similarities are staggering. You have voice-overs of the characters that are supposed to be saying something smart and deep, but really just come off as emo stereotypes. Which is the continuous problem throughout the movie: it’s pretentious as hell.
From what I can tell about KNIGHT OF CUPS, most ratings and general opinions of it seemed on the lower side; not considered Malick’s best film. However, I give the film some credit, I at least thought I knew what the movie was trying to get across. You had a guy who was looking back on his past relationships and trying to learn from them. The main character’s montoned, uninterested voice could have been interpreted as him objectively looking back and soaking in the memory as he remembers it. But in this film… there’s no passion behind any line delivery. It’s like everyone got pulled out of bed at five AM and forced to say some lines. Hell, half the time, they’re barely audible, so half the pretentious dialog can’t be heard anyway. I’d call that mercy were it not for the fact that these voice-overs NEVER SHUT UP!!!
Also, I just don’t buy into these characters that Malick created. I mean, while the film spews nonsense – er, I mean, “deep philosophy” – at the audience, there’s really awkward scenes with the men acting like idiots. Like, acting like monkeys and chasing Mara around. How am I supposed to take anything these characters are saying seriously when I’m looking at grown-ass adults acting like children with no rhyme or reason? I’m sure it’s supposed to show a “simpler time,” but this seems to be the only way these characters do that. They can’t just watch Netflix, read, cook together, I don’t know, anything but that awkwardness.
Speaking of awkwardness, for a movie that’s full of self-discovery, it’s surprisingly and uncomfortably whimsical at times. It’s almost like watching an early to mid 90’s Don Bluth film, seeing characters frolic in a meadow and playing “stay away from the tide” at the beach. It’s pandering to some demographic, but I couldn’t tell who considering how much sex and nudity is in the flick. Hell, some of it even gets down right hilariously bad in the second half.
If you’re hoping for me to say something positive about the movie, you might wanna stop here because I really want to get this out of me.
I couldn’t even tell you anything about these characters, other than a ton of their interactions with each other is just cheating. Yeah, that’s literally all these characters do is cheat on each other and feel bad about it. Well, sort of. The way it goes is that Mara’s character, Faye, finds herself in a triangle between Fassbender’s douchie Cook and Gosling’s unsuspecting good-guy BV. Don’t ask about the name. I have no idea. But even BV has an affair with another woman when Faye is gone for awhile, so who among this trifecta of assholes am I supposed to care about? I literally don’t care about anyone. I don’t care who ends up with who, or what happens to them. The closest character that I kind of got gripped by was Portman’s Rhonda. She’s the only one I feel any empathy for. Getting seduced by Cook who needs a woman in his life to cheat on. Oh yeah, Cook and Rhonda get married and he cheats on her.
Oh and when she realizes all of this, she kills herself. No good reason either other than “she feels trapped and can’t escape” or some bullshit like that. This baffles me because earlier on, we see that at some point, Cook had a threesome with Rhonda and Faye.
More on that relationship of theirs, the editing feels incredibly off. Why does that make a difference? If you really watch it, there is no sense of passage of time with Rhonda and Cook. The way their relationship is edited together from when they first met to when they got married, you’d swear they were dating for just a few weeks. I’m sure some defender of this movie will tell me, “You have to use your brain! They’ve been dating for a long time!” That may be the case, but it’s still not implied. People do get married having only dated a ridiculously short amount of time, so what makes this situation any different? No idea? Well I don’t have any idea either because I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG THEY’VE BEEN DATING!!!
This movie got so bad half way through, I tuned out. I stopped paying attention and was just waiting for the movie to end; counting down the minutes I had left of this. I’d go into how this movie insulted me with its line, “Sometimes the truth isn’t the right thing to say. Hurts more to say it,” but the movie has no justification behind this idea, nor does it explore this notion for the rest of the flick, or the near-blatant LA LA LAND moments when BV and Faye are singing at the piano together as well as his line, “You gotta do it,” right after Faye tells him that BV is going to sign her on as a musician, but… I’ve lost all energy.
That’s this movie’s ultimate failure. There’s no intrigue or energy to keep audiences invested. I know there’s something to respect, as this movie was made over the course of forty days of shooting spread out over the course of two years, but you’d think that this movie would have something to offer if so much time will be dedicated to getting it made. And I felt like there was nothing here. Just… nothing. Maybe some audiences will get a kick out of the many cameos from musicians, but that’s about it. It’s like he was trying to create a fictional documentary, but it has no focus or anything to really say to bring forth to the people watching. If you’re a Malick fan, maybe you’ll get something out of it, but for anyone else out there, I say skip it. Don’t see it. Hell, I don’t even recommend a rent. I’d say this movie insulted me, but I was too bored by it to care that much.
My honest rating for SONG TO SONG: 2/5