Van Redin / Broad Green Pictures
Song to Song
Rooney Mara takes a break from spinning and twirling.
SONG TO SONG (Terrence Malick). 129 minutes. Opens Friday (April 7). See listing. Rating: NNN
Terrence Malick’s Song To Song is another in the director’s ongoing cycle of dreamy meditations on the complexities of the human soul, and for a certain segment of his following, just sinking into Malick’s ecstatic vision of human connection and unknowable nature will be enough.
Meanwhile, those of us who worry that maybe Malick said everything he wanted to say in The Tree Of Life and has been just spinning his wheels since will find that this one isn’t quite as unmoored as, say, To The Wonder or Knight Of Cups. And it definitely has more going on than last year’s ersatz documentary, Voyage Of Time, offering a little character development and even a semblance of a plot.
Song To Song follows the relationships of a handful of people in the Austin music scene. Rooney Mara anchors the story as a young woman who drifts from a darkly inclined producer (Michael Fassbender) to a pure-hearted songwriter (Ryan Gosling). Natalie Portman, Bérénice Marlohe, Cate Blanchett and Holly Hunter wander in and out of the action as well.
If you know Malick’s work, you know what you’re getting – famous faces spinning, twirling and touching their way through a series of acting exercises (“What don’t I know?”) as the writer/director weaves his disparate strands together with intuitive editing and a lot of quasi-spiritual voice-over.
Mara is a fascinating presence, and Gosling’s innate comic sensibility makes him stand out among the withdrawn murmurers that make up Malick’s world. Fassbender has less to do, but he strikes a compelling figure at the edge of every frame.
The music-industry backdrop makes Song To Song feel less isolated and self-absorbed, especially when the characters interact with actual musicians like Patti Smith, Lykke Li, Iggy Pop, Flea and the Black Keys.
But there’s still a lot of spinning and twirling to get through.