“I tried to be kind, it only made me colder.”
Faye (Rooney Mara) follows the curtains of a hotel room she and BV (Ryan Gosling) are staying in.
BV asks her, “Do you love me?” and Faye smiles directly to the camera, and says, “Yes.”
She turns to her left and BV repeats the question, and with the same smile, she replies with the same simple but reassuring answer. I felt the love Faye and BV had. I saw it in Faye’s eyes through BV’s.
I heard it in her voice. I felt it through the curtains she played with.
At that moment, I knew I had fallen in love with Terrence Malick’s Song to Song.
Song to Song is the the embodiment of being in a moment where you want to cry, but can’t.
It goes through a romance like a song does, with all the grand parts of romance and the shaky parts of what the romance is.
It’s Malick at his most romantic, even more so than Days of Heaven and To The Wonder.
The film follows two couples; Faye & BV, played by Rooney Mara and Ryan Gosling, and Cook & Rhonda, played by Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman as they chase success and keep their relationships together in the Austin, Texas music scene.
Compared to Malick’s Post-Tree of Life films, Song to Song is the best of the 3.
What took me by surprise is how straightforward it’s narrative is compared to his previous two features.
As a fan of Malick, it was definitely easier to understand the narrative compared to To The Wonder and especially Knight of Cups.
While the narrative is more simple, Malick still portrays complex images that not only dazzle but have enough emotion to fill someone’s heart with joy or rip it in half.
Personally, I haven’t found many of the performances in Malick’s films to be very dazzling and that’s fine.
Malick isn’t interested in capturing memorable performances but performances that emote the emotion he needs for any given scene.
Thankfully, I blown away by the performances in this movie.
Rooney Mara is amazing as usual as her face can easily set the mood for any scene in the film right away.
She is the ray of light that Terry has in all his films.
Gosling uses his body language and facial expressions expertly here, and it’s his best performance since Drive.
Michael Fassbender is having the time of his life in this film.
He literally goes apeshit in one scene where he starts walking and jumping around like a monkey on the beaches of Yucatan, Mexico.
It’s amazing how he can go from crazy in one scene to heartbreaking in the next.
Natalie Portman is great but can’t be compared to the other 3 as much since her role is smaller than theirs. Other performances that stand out are Cate Blanchett, Patti Smith, and Val Kilmer. Val Kilmer goes full leather face and cuts an amp in half with a chainsaw.
I just realize how crazy this movie really is.
What works best about Malick’s directing in his most recent features is how raw and effortless is feels.
The films feels so in the moment, so in the now that I couldn’t stop but marvel at it and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki gives us his best work since The Tree of Life.
Song to Song is a combination of To The Wonder’s nature filled style and Knight of Cups’ excess.
All scenes feel transcendently spiritual with how grounded and how absurdly insane they get.
We can go from a scene of Val Kilmer on stage shredding through an amp with a chainsaw to Ryan Gosling working on an oil rig and laying down on the fields and still feel like there the film’s tone hasn’t changed.
It’s amazing how Malick can easily balance the chaotic moments and the more nuanced moments so perfectly.
If this is the end of 2010’s Malick as we know it, then Song to Song is the perfect conclusion to this symphony of images and heart ache.
Never before has Malick has made a film this romantic, this intimate, this lovely, this heartbreaking, and this beautiful.
Song to Song ends on a note of melancholy that every one of his films ends on. But compared to Jack in The Tree of Life, Neil in To The Wonder, and Rick in Knight of Cups, I think there is more hope for Faye, BV, Cook, and Rhonda.
Each of these films from The Tree of Life to Song to Song show the things Malick loves.
The Tree of Life shows his love for family, To The Wonder shows Malick’s love of women, Knight of Cups shows his love for the excess, and Voyage of Time shows Malick’s love for nature and the world that surrounds him.
Song to Song shows his love for music.
Each of these aspects help him in his films of people searching for connections and love in a world that seems to be more disconnected.
Song to Song is everything I love about cinema and Malick in general.
While many dismiss his latest efforts, I believe he’s one of the most interesting filmmakers working today.
His films are always fresh and are always way ahead of the curve.
Song to Song wraps you in its emotions of warmth, anger, sadness, romance, and melancholy to create one of my favorite cinema going experiences I’ve had in a long time.
Rooney Mara’s Faye said it best, “We thought we could just roll and tumble, live from song to song, kiss to kiss.”
That’s what a Terrence Malick film feels like.
★★★★★ Through its melancholic storytelling, Song to Song is a series of emotions and meditations on what it truly means to love. Malick continues his journey of humans finding connections in a modern world that feels disconnected and creates the best of his Post-Tree of Life filmography.