Song to Song (2017) Poster

(I) (2017)

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When a brilliant auteur goes down
Benedict_Cumberbatch12 March 2017
First off, I must say I am not a Terrence Malick hater. On the contrary: I used to worship the man. I even took an entire course in film school dedicated to him, Orson Welles, and Stanley Kubrick. I think the 5 films Malick did in the first 38 years of his career ("Badlands," "Days of Heaven," "The Thin Red Line," "The New World," and "The Tree of Life") are all masterpieces. I even liked "To the Wonder," which was almost universally panned, even though it was clearly not in the same league as his previous films. After the acclaimed "The Tree of Life," Malick (now 73 years old) has been working on several projects in different stages of production. He filmed "Song to Song" immediately after "Knight of Cups" (released last year) back in 2012, and it's only being released now, as a 129-minute film, after almost five years of post-production and at least 8 editors to turn it into something remotely coherent (reportedly, the first cut was 8 hours long). Unfortunately, like "Knight of Cups," "Song to Song" feels like a parody of Malick's work: the extensive, mumbling voice-over narration by all the main characters (taken to the extreme), the stunning imagery of nature and high-end real estate, and gorgeous people literally walking in circles and acting cute (or mean) to one another. The very thin plot revolves, as you heard, around two intersecting love triangles set against the music scene in Austin, Texas. But music doesn't play a great part in this story, and it certainly could have elevated it.

As abstract as Malick's earlier films could be, they all had tangible, rich, philosophical and often universal themes. "Knight of Cups" and "Song to Song" are pure cinematic masturbation. Malick's trick is getting some of the biggest (and best-looking) film stars in the world, and his main actors (Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman) have faces that one can easily watch for hours. But not even these great stars can masquerade the emptiness of the film. Mara has the most screen time of them all, being the only true leading character here, while Cate Blanchett, Holly Hunter, Val Kilmer, and Berenice Marlohe are reduced to cameos. There's at least one painfully genuine moment, near the end, featuring Hunter's character, but it only lasts a few seconds; Malick's gaze isn't interested in her emotions. He'd rather show us, for the umpteenth time, Mara and Fassbender being flirty and sexy instead.

I am all about experimental cinema, but when you realize that this is the deepest sort of "experimental" project that Hollywood can put out (made by a revered auteur that movie stars almost pay to work with), you feel even more nostalgic for the daring collaborations between Tilda Swinton and the late Derek Jarman. I know people who deemed "Knight of Cups" a "masterpiece" and will probably say the same about "Song to Song." I try to be respectful of other people's opinions, but I really don't think we're seeing this film through the same lens. I still admire and respect Malick; I just liked his work more when he had something to say. Right now, I see him as someone who can afford to make gorgeous-looking home movies just for his pleasure, but he's a much more interesting artist when he expands his canvas into something we can truly care about.
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Nice visuals but utterly self-indulgent
jefferino27 March 2017
I always go to a Terrence Malick movie hoping to find once again something akin to the transcendent vision firmly grounded in the real world that I encountered when I first saw "Days of Heaven" (1978), a movie that combined gorgeous cinematography with a compelling plot. My hopes were dashed yet again with "Song to Song." The visual beauty is here, but the movie feels bloated, self-indulgent, and disconnected. Malick's technique of splicing together seemingly random footage overlaid with barely audible interior monologue has by now become formulaic, and he seems incapable, unwilling, or afraid to deliver a sustained scene in which characters actually exchange meaningful dialogue. And speaking of characters, one after another is introduced for no apparent reason, as if quantity could make up for the fact that none of them are developed, and their utter shallowness foreshortens any depths the movie might be trying to plumb. Finally, the movie went on so long that I left feeling too exasperated and exhausted to hold on to the shreds of visual beauty that it offered.
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Way too many close-ups of Mara's face
vaniamendes17 May 2017
My God I am all here for a great experimental, artistic movie, but this was just boring. Despite all the great cinematography, the message from this movie could be told in 30 minutes and was explored so much better in another 100 movies. The scene with Holly Hunter in the parking lot was the best one, but it only lasted a few seconds. Besides that, it was just an accumulation of beautiful faces flerting together (good acting nonetheless). And where was the music? The music could have saved the movie. Filming the film at a festival and putting on some old music legends doesn't do the job.
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Emperor Malick is Wearing No Clothes. Or Plot. Or Characters.
baze24 March 2017
The first movie I have walked out of in as long as I can remember is still on the screen at Austin's Arbor Theater but I am sipping a beer and wondering if I will ever pay to see a Terence Malick film again. As utterly bored as I have been in a theater since Tree of Life (which SHONE in comparison), I gave up waiting for something to happen to wrap this turkey up or make me care. News Flash: it had not appeared on screen at 2 hours in.

I want those 2 hours back.

Malick's latest "Song To Song"? Beautifully-lensed images of characters I know little about and care even less about looking mostly beautiful and doing stuff I don't care about or understand. Any Calvin Klein "Obsession" advert from the 80s had more substance, a more compelling story line and infinitely more ability to hold my interest. This was like a cinematic Austin Architectural Digest showcase of homes, but less interesting. Oh. It was about "struggling musicians"? Malick's definition of "struggling" is as far from reality as Gigli is from good.

The Patti Smith cameo and song snippets in a soundtrack (seemingly created by 20 or 30 misguided people who did not know each other and apparently had not seen the film) were my sole high points. They were enough to make me go all the way to 2 stars, but minus one because I looked at my watch about 8 times waiting for it to end. It may STILL be running and I am halfway through a beer down the road.

Can we chip in to buy Malick a screenwriter, and an editor? Emperor Malick is buck naked folks. Maybe a Kickstarter campaign? SKIP IT.
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It is a nostalgic and emotional experience
cvetkovski_ikee24 June 2017
It is so beautifully thought film, that it almost seems like an improvisation. Very deep, captivating and honest film leading me to the only question while i was watching it: How old is Malick? I mean, inside? He may be 70 years old, but his films speak about universal feelings. "Song to song" is not a conventional film with a conventional story. It's more of a sad and confessional experience, more of a feeling, an emotion long kept inside, finally made into a form of art.

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.

Maybe we don't see all of this, cause this is not a modern film and our society doesn't deal with emotions anymore. But i don't thing Malick cares for any of this. He literally makes a film for himself, to try to free himself from his feelings and put it into something useful and creative.

The point is, it's not a film to be liked or disliked, cause we, the people can't wait to judge something, and not to try to understand it first. You may just not connect to it. That's it. It's not a memorable film and it won't be, cause after people saw "The tree of life", now they get bored with his concept of filmmaking, seeing all of his films like a sequel to it. I found it as more of a pattern that he found to be able to express himself constantly, by really focusing on his emotions and very honestly and artistically opening his soul to the audience to see it. And why not and judge it. 9/10
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You gotta love the visuals. Malick is a painter with a story barely important.
jdesando3 April 2017
"The world wants to be deceived." Cook (Michael Fassbender)

Terence Malick's current cast of romantics are lost in themselves, searching how they can find fulfillment, largely through troubled relationships that on the surface look ethereal. Of course, that heavenly view happens because Malick's point of view is through his lens, which, with the help of his usual cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, is other-worldly gorgeous and impressionistic.

Although Malick has taken inspiration from trees and landscapes in many other films, here he takes pleasure in the angles of modern Austin architecture with its glass-dominated homes and their infinity pools. All the better for the heroes Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling) to be constantly thinking of themselves as the center of the universe and those outside the glass a part of the menagerie to be neglected.

The fly in the ointment of love is producer Cook, who is after Faye and succeeding without BV knowing it. The eternal triangle seems to flourish for much of the film because Malick not only sees like a painter with just images to contend with, but he also concentrates more on the physical properties of his characters and their stories and less on the corrosive result of promiscuity.

The glue to the multiple images is the soundtrack, about as eclectic as you'll ever hear and changing with most sequences. The songs evoke mood and meaning as well as the remembered past, Reinforcing the dominance of music are cameos from the likes of Iggy Pop, Tegan and Sara, Anthony Kiedis, and Lykke.

Music and memory are the stuff of Song to Song. Along with Malick's incomparable images, you'll be fully immersed in the impressions of people caught in the act of using love to give meaning to life. Just don't expect a tour of the Austin music scene. It's all about impressions, Baby.
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Pretentious crap seems mostly improvised
paul-allaer25 March 2017
"Song to Song" (2017 release; 129 min.) brings the story of Faye. As the movie opens, we hear Faye announce in voice over "I went through a period where sex had to be violent", and with that we are off. Fay seems to have a relationship with both BV (a budding musician) and Cook (a record executive). We see them at various Austin landmarks and outdoor shows (ACL Music Festival, I assume). At this point we are about 10-15 min. into the movie, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from writer-director Terrence Malick, Here he follows a path that s very similar of his previous film "Knight of Cups": essentially an abstract film about relationships, with not much dialogue but plenty of voice-over thoughts ("Any experience is better than no experience" and "I went along like someone in a dream", just to give you a glimpse). This movie was actually shot in 2011-12, and is only now seeing the light of day. Rumor has it that Malick had 8 hours of film which he had to cut down to this final version, just over 2 hrs., and when you are watching it, it does feel like we skip from scene to scene without any sense or purpose. As for the lead actors (Rooney Mara as Faye, Ryan Gosling as BV, Michael Fassbender as Cook; Natalie Portman appears about a half hour into the movie for some scenes; yet later Cate Blanchett, as a fling of BV, makes her entrance), it feels like most of what they are doing seems improvised. Not much of it makes sense or is coherent in any way, shape or form. Tons of cameos from the music world (RHCP, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Johnny Lydon, etc., mostly in a blink and you'll miss it moment). As a long-time fan and admirer of Terrence Malick, it pains me to tell you that, on the heels of the so-so Knight of Cups, this is even worse. Given the all-star ensemble cast, what a colossal waste of talent all around!

"Song to Song" opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and given who all was involved in this production, I couldn't wait to see it. The Saturday matinée screening where I saw this at was attended okay but not great. "Song to Song" is not a movie that I can recommend to anyone, although there may be some curiosity about this film, given the all-star cast attached to it. Viewer beware! (*UPDATE* The movie sank like a stone at the box office, and disappeared after just one week from the theater here in Cincinnati.)
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Two Hours and Nine Minutes of Boredom
ghykal-343-90335023 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'll start with the pros: It's a visually pleasing film. It does a nice job of showing some of the beauty of Austin and the area around it. There are a lot of talented and attractive people in the movie.

But it's a total failure. Despite the non-stop narration, it's still a confusing mess of a film. There's zero emotional attachment to any of the characters. They just kind of float through the film without any purpose. There's no story, no tension, no emotion, and no reason to care about what any of these characters do.

** SPOILER** Even when one of the supporting characters kills herself, what you would imagine would be a large moment in a film where nothing really happens, it's handled matter-of-factly in less than a minute of screen time.

If Malick is trying to say anything in this film, it's that he's rich, pampered, and bored out of his mind.
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Don't Bother
debjbright30 March 2017
The good: Views of Austin, Texas and the Enchanted Rock (but I'm a Texan.) Acting by cast, especially Rooney, Hunter and Gosling.

The bad: No story line to speak of and not a fan of the CONSTANT cutting away from scene to scene. If you are going to have this many people getting ready to have sex, for god's sake, show us a little of the action! If you were a actress in this mess, you got to show off your bellybutton, which was so often, it got to be funny.

This movie should have been edited down by an hour and it would have been so much better.

Skip it and save your bucks for something better!
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More crap from Terrence Malick
EAA12318 June 2017
This is not a movie. It's another Knight of Cups, which was total crap as well. It's a narrated story of nothing. Nothing happens in this movie, there's no story arc, no plot, no character development. You will not experience any emotions during this film. You will not have any thoughts about this thing either, besides, "Why did I watch this movie about nothing" Lots of pretty girls in it, so if that means anything to you just trying to be seen....
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Lightness and weight
diand_15 March 2017
In philosophy both Parmenides and Heraclitus saw lightness as the positive side of the lightness-weight dichotomy. Later, the writer Italo Calvino took the same position. But it was Milan Kundera who stated it as a dilemma framed in Nietzsche's concept of the eternal return: a heavy burden can crush us, but the heavier the burden, the more real and truthful our lives become. Malick clearly takes on the latter position in this movie, which was originally more aptly titled Weightless. This theme is also connected to Heidegger's Man being called back in self-awareness and fulfillment by answering introspective questions about his existence.

Song to song is an exploration of love and ambition set against the Austin music scene. Especially around the theme of love the movie makes interesting observations: That true love is only possible by isolating yourself from the fake world (of music and money here), that walls are built around you inhibiting you from finding real love. Another observation is that early in life you love everyone, but ultimately your awareness, society, and religion lets you end up with one true love, unable to love others any more.

The notion Malick makes about love is the romantic character of love itself, romantic not in the sense we nowadays attach to it, but the original meaning as an unattainable ideal, combined with adoration of nature and emphasis on the individual and its intense emotions, the latter creating beauty and experience. Romanticism was mainly a reaction to industrialization and urban sprawl: All Malick movies have shots of urban landscapes and nature scenes; they look for beauty in that nature and have a preference for searching for intuition instead of filming fixed storyboards.

The story however develops in a non-romantic direction: Where in the quintessential novel of the romantic (or more precisely Sturm und Drang) movement the main male character shoots himself after being rejected by the woman he loves (Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers), Malick replaces that hopelessness with a man who commits adultery, has regrets and is punished and tested by the woman he loves who commits far more and extremer adulterous acts.

Malick uses again a naturalistic style of filming, adding unscripted moments that occur during the movie shoot. Some footage is shot at the Austin City Limits festival and short interviews with John Lydon and Iggy Pop are included. The state of Texas features prominently: a key scene is before a Texaco gas station for example, but overall it is the unusual, non-clichéd beauty of both nature and the built-up Texan landscape that is well captured by Lubezki's camera, making effective use of wide camera angles. It also feels less slow and has more snappy cuts than Knight of Cups, which will be a relief for many I guess. The editing by a team of 8 (!) editors is however inconsistent and one of the weaknesses of the movie.

Two actresses in the movie have in my opinion the capability to give this an extra level, to give it real character depth acting on multiple levels in order to convey the emotions Malick's movies are oddly enough often lacking despite aiming for them: Portman and Blanchett. They are so underused and reduced to cardboard characters that it can almost be called a shame.

What struck me also about this movie is how conservative and deeply religious Malick's world view is: He clearly roots for Patti Smith's love story she tells in the movie for example, and sees the other musicians and portrays them as lost souls. In Song to song the woman repents, but the man only regrets. I see a parallel here with Tarkovsky's movies, which show the same religious, conservative world view. It brings up an odd observation: These two movie geniuses shatter the notion that true art can nowadays only be made by free souls, their art more in line with church-supported art like it used to be (Note: See The Tree of Life explanation by Bishop Barron).

Von Trier once remarked that he in effect makes the same movie over and over again, and Malick has come to that same point now. He has perfected his storytelling skills, hides the movie in the images and by editing, uses time and space shifting, sees salvation in nature (the element of water is effectively used here), adds autobiographical elements (music, adultery, suicide, father-son relation, ambition), so Radegund can hopefully be the creative destruction many now hope for.
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I'm not gonna go into the actual plot of the film itself and its intricate nature; ill let you Experience the journey yourself, but I will say, if you're a Malick fan, you will appreciate it more. Unfolding in pure stream of consciousnesses form, I was left entranced by what I was seeing on screen. Jarring, hypnotic, sexy. These people are all but familiar, you feel with them throughout their human experience, love, greed, betrayal, self pity. and their search for "Meaning", and i put meaning in quotations for a reason. It pulsates with authenticity. As I walked out of the theater the film was washed over me, I became more in tune to the images and sounds of my reality. Reveling in the power of the now. Malicks unique film language and the way he crafts the interconnectedness of time is so refreshing and interesting. Thank you Terrence Malick.
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Examines our disconnection from the sacred
howard.schumann20 April 2017
Observing, feeling, thinking, day dreaming, or simply throwing up your hands in exasperation. You may be engaged in all or none of the above when watching Terence Malick's ("Knight of Cups") Song to Song, a dreamlike exploration of love and betrayal. Whatever does come up for you, however, and whether or not you have any idea where the film is going, the ride is never less than fascinating. Malick's films will never be to everyone's liking, yet like other directors whose work shattered boundaries and were not fully appreciated until after their death, the totality of his work may take time to fully assess.

Similar to Malick's recent films "To the Wonder" and "Knight of Cups," Song to Song is a film of mood, memories, and impressions that examines our disconnection from the sacred in our quest for sex, power, and money. Set in Malick's old stomping grounds of Austin, Texas, the film opens as budding musicians, singer Faye (Rooney Mara, "Lion") and songwriter BV (Ryan Gosling, "La La Land") meet at a party thrown by high-living record producer Cook (Michael Fassbender, "The Light Between Oceans"), a man of considerable power in the industry who they look to for a foothold.

Faye and BV begin a relationship that is playfully erotic, and, in typical Malickian fashion, replete with voice-overs, whispering, introspection, and philosophizing. "I was desperate to feel something real. I wanted to be free the way he was," Faye says and "Any experience was better than no experience," a dubious proposition at best. BV teases her with such pronouncements as "Just tell me a complete lie. You can say anything you want to me. That's the fun about me." Seeking something "real," she shows houses for a living - suburban homes and high rise apartments in Austin that become the background set for her romantic trysts.

Since Faye admits that she feels nothing and is open to various kinds of pleasures, she becomes involved with both BV and Cook, (a reality that takes BV a long time to discover) as well as taking part, albeit halfheartedly, in a Lesbian affair with French artist Zoey (Bérénice Marlohe, "Skyfall"). When he learns about Faye's "betrayal", he fends off his ex-wife Lykke's (Lykke Li) overtures and hooks up with the older Amanda (Cate Blanchett), who may remind him of his overbearing mother Judy (Linda Emond, "Indignation").

Cook meets and eventually marries Rhonda (Natalie Portman, "Jackie") a waitress in a local coffee shop, but it doesn't turn out well as Cook turns to prostitutes to maintain his freedom from the captivity of marriage. The film meanders from theme to theme and song to song in which Malick embraces the music scene in Austin in an eclectic soundtrack. Featured are the music of Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley as well as classical composers Maurice Ravel, Gustav Mahler, and Arvo Part. While the characters realize that their lives have been inauthentic, there is still little joy.

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. One character says that something is out there that is trying to find us, but the "something" remains obscure. While passion does exist in Malick's visions of nature captured by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki ("Birdman"), and the film exudes grace in the Leonardo drawing of the Virgin Mary and the painting of the Madonna on a building wall, Song to Song brings us close to the edges of spirituality without fully trusting us to come to grips with something larger than ourselves.
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Waste of a great cast
lindhe-115 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm giving this film a 4/10 and that's honestly being quite generous. I'll start with the good parts. The acting is quite solid all around and the characters feel believable and real, the only downside is that it sometimes feels a bit too improvised. With a cast this great how could you go wrong?

Well it turns out you can go really wrong. The whole movie feels very pretentious and it tries so hard to be deep and philosophical. Sadly it delivers on no parts of that spectrum and ends up just being slow and boring. There are a few interesting parts of the movie, mainly those with music and real artists, but the rest is just unbearable. One upside is that the cinematography is on point most of the time so we see a few beautiful and interesting shots here and there.

I've studied film and I try to always give movies a chance but this was honestly painful. It felt like this movie could easily have been one and a half hours shorter. I understand wanting to keep a slow pace and take time with the storytelling but that requires that the story and characters are at least interesting or engaging.

Not worth your time and money. Unless you're into being extremely bored.
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Self-indulgent Pointless Garbage
mattspach13 July 2017
There is absolutely no reason any human being would want to waste their time watching this plot-less, character-less, emotion-less piece of absolute garbage. In the midst of laughing hysterically at what is intended to be a dramatic and thought-provoking piece of 'cinematic art' I kept telling myself "This has to be the worst film ever made". I have a great deal of respect for most of the artists involved in the making of this film including Malick, who has made some absolutely amazing, groundbreaking movies in his career. On top of that I can't stand the formulaic and overplayed Hollywood movies that keep flying off the shelves, which is why I go out of my way to watch films like this.

Similar to the two previous projects of Terrence Malick (To the Wonder and Knight of Cups), we are introduced vaguely into a small window in the lives of a few individuals without being given any character development of narrative base. Without a basic understanding of who are characters are and what they like about each other or what their personalities are like we cannot even force ourselves to have the smallest bit invested in the story. Not only is the acting impossible to take seriously, the directing is ten times as bad. We are constantly unsure who's story is being told and the role that each character plays on the lives of the others. This is a star-studded cast of trained actors, but they are thrust into this overbearingly indulgent sphere of artsy fartsy cinematography and false profundity being delivered through emotionless voice-over.

Ryan Gosling has by far the best performance, and can almost be believed to be a real person once or twice. Yet we cannot be sure what's happened to him or what his desires, intentions, or beliefs are. The other performances are all absolute garbage but maybe has to do with the editing, which removed almost every scene with any dialogue. If you went through this movie, amongst the touching of walls and occasional touching of shoulders and stomachs, I don't think you could find a single cohesive scene where the goals or relationships of the characters could be defined or even interpreted without making huge assumptions.

The Texas music scene was a complete gimmick and had absolutely nothing to do with the storyline or characters in any way. It was just used as a way to create some rhythm to the editing of what would have otherwise been a film entirely devoted to absurd prancing around, birdlike mating rituals, touching each other sensually, and then having a glow-stick party just to transition smoothly to another pointless, indulgent scene that doesn't develop anything new. So the "music scene setting" was an excuse to get a few famous musicians to film in your movie, and a way to explain the background of a film without a background.

The fact that this was shot in 2012, and not screened until 2017, gives me a pretty clear idea of how much garbage they originally shot. But it also raises the question as to why these specific shots and 'scenes' were chosen for the final cut. I feel terribly bad for Rooney Mara, who may have had a few good performances in there somewhere, but must have been cut somewhere along the way. For the first half of the films she doesn't say a single word on screen but seems to be the main character. In the end we don't feel sorry, we don't forgive, we're not proud of her, we basically don't give two shits what happens to any of them. And we aren't told what happens to any of them or given even the slightest glimpse of a conclusion. As someone who loves unanswered questions as a natural part of storytelling, normally I wouldn't mind this. But in Song to Song I found myself constantly saying, "what the heck is happening?" and "Who are these people?" and "Why are they doing these strange mating ritual things and looking away from each other in empty public spaces?" Those aren't the kind of unanswered questions that make you think.

The absolute number one criticism I have for the film is that hardly a quarter of the time are the characters doing anything that I would consider "normal" human behavior. Not one natural exchange, not one human emotion that wasn't overridden by self-proclaiming, melodramatic, bourgeois, in-your face filmmaking. It is trying to explore big ideas like trust and betrayal, obsession and connection, and past vs present, but there have simply been far too many films that have already explored these concepts in much better, easily interpreted and more enjoyable to watch ways. Majority of the film is spent with two characters walking in different directions running their hands along poles or walls, and the other half they are doing inappropriate public displays of affection. Also the setting changes almost every shot and there is never any explanation as to why or any logical explanation given as to why they are so alone in these public environments. I thought for a second he was pulling another artistic gimmick like "they are in their own world" or something like that, but that reading can't be justified because there is once in a while a few other people around.

My condolences to the editors, who had to cut this down for Malick's original 8 hour cut, and the actors who's performances were sabotaged by a crappy vision.
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it was the best of Malick times... it was the WTF-worst of Malick times
Quinoa198429 March 2017
On the one hand, I liked that, for what seems like the first time since The New World Malick has actors as characters in scenes where they, you know, have dialog exchanges and we get to see how they interact and learn about each other. It's not a lot of the time, but it shows that when Malick sat down with the actors and, whether it was improvised or not, got them to figure out how these people would talk to one another, whatever shades (or not) of depth there would be - and this isn't just the main cast but, say, small scenes between Mara's Faye and Faye's father, or BV (Gosling) with his mother, or any of Patti Smith's scenes - it's a joy to see these actors work off one another. If Malick had actually been working from a script, as opposed to no script at all, he might have had one of his best films.

On the other hand, and I can't believe I'm saying this, I may be getting tired of "Chivo" Lubezki's cinematography, at least in this case after so many Malick films. It's a strange thing to say since when one sees The New World or especially The Tree of Life, they're nothing short of photographic tour-de-forces, things that we haven't seen in cinematic grammar before as far as how he uses the lenses and the natural light, at least in such a way as it is. But while he has the good instinct sometimes to push in or pull out on an actor when they're talking, and of course the light through (there are a lot of) windows, or outside, is beautiful (it can't help but be anything but and there's no synonyms left for it), I kind of wished there wasn't such a hodge-podge of technical approaches here.

And meanwhile on the one hand this is a film that has Iggy Pop, Flea and Patti Smith in cameos (and Smith even gets to have something like a character, probably more than Holly Hunter or Cate Blanchett probably), and it certainly captures the Austin music scene with vitality and energy and gets how it's intoxicating to see the audience and to be so close to the stage or backstage and, to another extent, hanging around Michael Fassbender (who, despite working without a script net, shows why he's so good as an actor first, movie star second, understanding how to just be in a room looking and listening can have weight). Also all of the main cast have insanely good chemistry together, both physically and mentally (mostly physically), and I think Gosling and Mara are a good fit for a Malick world.

On the other hand, this line: "I don't like to see the birds in the sky because I'll miss you" or this line "Mercy was a word. I never thought I needed it." Yeah.

And, on top of the narration which is, mostly here, the absolute worst that Malick's had in his films - some of it's laughable, other times it's horrible, and even in Knight of Cups I didn't feel this way, though to an extent I did with 'Wonder' - I felt bad for actors in the second half of the movie who seemed adrift, maybe with more character material on the cutting room floor (there's another *six hours* of this), like Blanchett or Berenice Marlohe. Both of these women play the love interests of the respective Gosling and Mara characters after they split up (why they do would both take too long and not be worth the effort for its simplicity), but even compared to everyone else I didn't get a sense of who they were as people.

I'm not talking about this as if it's a problem as far as something intentional that a filmmaker does where they leave some mystery with the people and we have to read into things (with Faye, I think Mara actually does a whole lot with a little, at least from what we can see, and her performance came the closest to making me care about a character on screen - I thought almost the same could've been for Portman's Rhonda, but she leaves the film for so long stretches I forgot that her conflict was so shallow, but I digress). What I mean is more that I had no idea why the two ex-lovebirds would go with these people, what they mean to them, what they do for them, and why Blanchett's character becomes so sad for not much reason (BV's mother warns him off of her at one point because... she's sad, that's it), and Marlohe gets even less.

So with Song to Song, I know it sounds like I'm coming down on it harshly, but it's because I expect a great deal from this director, and want him to do well. The problem though in general is that at 129 minutes it feels too long, which is a strange thing to note considering that there's, I must stress, SIX OTHER HOURS of footage, so I'm not sure if it could use being like 20 even 30 minutes shorter, or another hour longer or so. There's scenes that get surprisingly close to the emotional depths that Malick could get at back in his prime 70's days with his actors, and they're game for making a romance film full of highs and lows. But the more "Malick" touches with how memories and impressions and nature and the city of Austin and who knows what else blends in with the story is hit or miss at best and distractingly precious and bad at worst (I probably neglected to write down other glaringly dumb lines).
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A haunting meditation on love & romance
nestor-trujillo2 April 2017
Am I the only one who absolutely this film? After watching it and reading through a few reviews I felt, as usual with Terrence Malick, unsurprised but wholly frustrated at the glut of criticism towards this film. As expected, they devolved into the typical comments regarding Malick's "pretentiousness" and how his style has diminished into overindulgent "self-parody." I understand the niche taste Malick has come to cater to (if he really is catering to anyone but himself). I can even understand complaints about his recent films' painfully long runtimes, his static pacing and tone, his tedious, sparse narratives, which are all reasonable and grounded opinions. What I cannot understand are these notions of self-parody because, to my knowledge, parody requires humor and there is nothing funny about the deeply personal stories and haunted characters Malick shows us. There is also nothing pretentious about Terrence Malick. The word "pretentious" denotes an attempt "to impress by affecting greater importance than is actually possessed" but who are we to claim what is important and what isn't? Even if his films seem affected and contrived to many, they are clearly also important and deeply personal works to him and, in my opinion, to an artist that should be all that matters. With that said, Song To Song is perhaps one of Malick's best films yet. I disliked To the Wonder and although I absolutely loved Knight of Cups (my second favorite film from 2017), Song To Song proves to be a much more cohesive work while still managing to transcend time and space as past, present, and future all flow into each other, making the viewer question how the chronology of the narrative might have transpired. In this sense, Song To Song is a cerebral film that challenges the audience to piece together director's landscape of fractured memories and complex emotions. However, in this film it is achieved with much more comprehension, unlike Knight of Cups which utilized a similarly fragmented narrative but then threw us off (or at least me) by giving the false impression of being a linear episodic story. It's also impossible to write a review for this film without discussing the music. The music! Malick's approach to the crazed, liberated, drug-fueled music scene in Austin, Texas really embraces the opportunity to introduce a quality rock soundtrack in contrast to his usual classical scores, which is still present but overwhelmingly outnumbered by tracks by Patti Smith (who appears in the film), the Black Lips and, oddly enough, Die Antwoord. The music aids the film's sense of progression and cohesion, as it quite fittingly moves from song to song in a manner that reminded me a lot of another musically-infused romantic film, 9 Songs (Winterbottom, 2004). Though at first this may sound like a gimmick it actually serves a satisfying symbolic function, which is revealed by an important line in the movie that I will not spoil (you'll know it when you hear it). At the very least, it's safe to say that the music helps liven the otherwise brooding tone of the movie while also providing a stark contrast to Emmanuel Lubezki's beautiful cinematography, which I need not even get into. Overall, Terrence Malick's latest tone poem captures its subjects with candid grace, like a haunted lover reminiscing on splintered memories with regret and sorrow. As usual, he focuses not on the content of characters' relationships, nor their actions or words, but on the very feeling of being in love, of being torn in half, of being lost and confused. He welcomes you into his own haunted psyche, manufacturing a dreamscape that I trust myself to be immersed in because it is a deeply personal one. At one point, Ryan Gosling's character even speaks to his two brothers, harking back to his earlier film, The Tree of Life, and undoubtedly a parallel to Malick's own tortured past. There is no doubt that the characters in his films are all important parts of him, but they are also parts of ourselves; and the fact that he opens himself up to us which such sincerity in order to allow ourselves to explore our own pain and regrets, is truly a brave act. Ultimately, Song To Song is a phenomenal experience that, like most of Malick's work, is grounded in memory because he understands that it is never the exact details or conversations that we remember, but the pain, the joy, the sadness, and the fleeting moments that meant the most to us.
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Adult People playing with each other in a sexualised way
j-m-w3 August 2017
I saw the trailer of this movie, which looked quite good. I have seen Tree of life and didn't liked the film at all, though I'm not entirely closed to this kind of films.

If the film is able to tell a story just with images, that's fine. But with this film i wondered where or what the story was at all.

Basically all you see this movie is Fassbender, Rooney, Portman, Blanchett and Gosling playing with each other like they are about to have sex. But they actually never do have sex. also they rotate their partners without any notable reason.

This rotations are not explained in anyway which makes them just seem totally random. Even emotionally there is no way to get to them.

Then it appears that they are all musicians, or not? Im not sure, at some point they all have instruments in their hands. And they having their "romantic dance" also on a festival. Ans then some famous musicians appear who drop some wise lines not related to anything else in the movie. so yeah nice to see them have a cameo, cool, next scene, oh they doing romantic dance again.

And if this film is supposed to be about musicians or how they experience live, i have been a musician on stage in front of crows for a long time and i cant relate to any of this.

I even watched the interviews for some help, but nobody offers me some explanation. I don't know.

No Story and only people playing with each other, pretty boring over all.
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What a piece of junk
fbmike19 June 2017
Hire a bunch of grade A actors, film a bunch of 10 second clips of them ad-libbing, throw it all together disjointed, and wah lah, you got a terrible flick. This is what happens when you don't have a script and just tell the actors to do/say whatever comes to mind. Guess they used the money they normally would have for a good script and paid all the actors with it. I like all the actors in the movie but like none of them in THIS movie. They all came out looking like elite idiots. When I think of all the times Hollywood is completely out of touch, nothing is a better example of it than Hollywood making this movie. The only thing I got out of this, was being disgusted.
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Song to Song (2017)
rockman18218 March 2017
What a cinematic experience. If you know me well, you know I love Terrence Malick's work. It wasn't always that way, I had to revisit some of his work to really appreciate what he brings to cinema. Song to Song may have been the film I was most hyped for in 2017, seeing as my favorite actor and actress (Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara) were finally working together and teaming up with a visionary like Malick. I know this film will divide and polarize viewers but I think if you love cinema and Malick's style (especially his last few films) you will enjoy this work.

The film is mostly about a couple of musicians who fall for each other and their captivating connection. Betrayal, infidelity, and other humanly circumstances get in the way of their relationship but then they eventually drift apart and find their way to each other. First off, this film has an excellent cast. The four of the top billed cast are immensely talented and this film has a number of satisfying musical cameos. Just like with Tree of Life and Knight of Cups the film uses camera-work that is shifty, montage-like, personal, and with quick cuts. There is use of fish-eye lens, first person, behind the head shots, you name it. The cinematography at times is absolutely gorgeous; the film is as close to visual art as you can get. And this is no surprise because its quintessential Malick.

Narrative structure of the film is coherent despite the cutting and style of storytelling. Its not at ll hard to follow and I was engaged from the get go, it comes down to personal taste. I can imagine a casual moviegoer to get frustrated with the structure and lack of straightforward progression. I found the intricacies of the interactions between the characters so fascinating and thought there was real compatibility between the cast members. I love Rooney Mara so much and her beauty was so crisp in every scene she was in. The characters in this film experience a range of human emotions throughout and its a wonder to behold.

Many may find the film to be pretentious in its attempt to be profound. I was perfectly fine with the inner monologues of the characters, much like with Malick's recent films. I still think Tree of Life is his best masterpiece but this film is probably the next of his filmography that I feel a strong connection with. I am glad I experienced this film as soon as possible and wish it would get the Criterion treatment much like some of Malick's other work.

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Song of the Year
alex-klein242413 June 2017
If you would have asked me five years ago who my favorite director was, I would have told you whoever makes the Marvel movies. Today I am proud to say that I have stepped out of the cave and over the last two years have submersed myself in cinema in all of its forms. Because of that, I could now tell you who my top five favorite directors are and why and one of the top people is Terrence Malick. Everything about him is magic and Song to Song is no different.

Song to Song, like most Malick movies, doesn't really have a plot. It is a movie about two different love triangles set to the Austin, TX music scene. That is about as much as you will get from the movie but that is the point. A Malick movie does not need a plot. Each film is a display of art and a cruise through cinematography. Malick is also famous for casting a bunch of famous people and then cutting some or all of their footage at the last minute. He is also famous for taking forever to make his movies. This movie was worked on for a long time and stars Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, and Natalie Portman. It also was originally billed with Christian Bale but all of his scenes were cut. With that said, all of the above actors (minus Bale) were phenomenal. They take you through a journey of love and loss, death and life, and their interests criss cross each other throughout the film. As little a plot as their is in these films, I was able to follow this one the best.

The cinematography, as stated earlier, is top of the art. Malick always uses Emmanuel Lubezki who you may know as the man who did the cinematography for Birdman and The Revenant. He has an ethereal flow and a great eye for wide shots and tracking shots and utilizes 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.

Go see Song to Song if you love art and cinema. Go see it if you are a Malick fan or a Lubezki fan. Don't see this movie if you need to have a plot in your film. The usher at the beginning of the movie told the crowd that many people walk out of his movies because of that and I would hate for you to be one of those people. But if you want to experience a truly immersive art piece, hurry and find this movie near you.
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Makes love and beauty, stale, colorless, spiritless, dead and meaningless
NathanMcDunnough13 September 2017
Terrence Malick serves up a self-righteous, sanctimonious, pretentious, piece of excrementitious cine. This movie will ruin your life. It is torturously boring. You will squirm in your seat. I can't believe that there was a time when I wished that Malick made more films. The Thin Red Line is still one of my favorite movies. I thought Badlands and Days of Heaven were very good. Things started to go down hill a bit with The New World, which wasn't great but wasn't too bad either. I thought that The Tree Life was pretentious too, but there were aspects of the film that I still liked. But Malick's latest, this movie, Song to Song, is a lifeless, soulless, empty, and just down right awful movie. What sane person could enjoy it? It drags more and more as it lingers on and on, up until the last hour, which is excruciatingly dull. Look, you can assemble a cast of great actors, and this movie has terrific actors, but they need a story. All the countless shots of butterflies, caterpillars, tall flowing grasses, crashing ocean waves, sunsets and sunrises, whispers, secret thoughts, caresses and love-making—I used to appreciate it in Malick's films—but now, it is exhausting, it is boring, and it rings hollow. I think the man might be out of ideas.
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isabelherreraih21 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This film had an all star cast and the story line fell short of keeping anyone engaged. I walked out of the screening due to frustration of the story line being interrupted by artsy shots of Austin. It felt like this was movie with infomercials of the city. I would never watch this film again or finish watching it till the end. I can't take back the hour and half of my life back.
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If you love perfume commercials...
madeiraramos24 June 2017
It is true, apart from the so so aesthetics, highly enhanced by pop furniture, this "movie" is nothing but a two hour long perfume commercial... without the perfume. Nothing's there from minute one. There are things that even good, experienced, well known actors, can't polish. I will waste the exactly same amount of time writing this review as the lads took thinking of this production. 1 for the cast, 1 for visuals= 2. Watch and forget it.
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It was pure anguish watching this film!
BlissQuest2 August 2017
Films like Song of Song make one avow: Never would I want the job of a professional film critic even though I really enjoy the art form. At least I have the option of fast-forwarding when things get bad (I don't go to the theater unless the reviews are off the charts. But as a film critic, you have to sit there and endure each torturous frame. Terrence Malick's arrogance definitely comes across in this film. He called up a few A list actors and told them to improvise an already terrible script. I was left asking the question: who on earth agreed to fund this horrible film!?
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