Song To Song isnt first-rate Terrence Malick

SONG TO SONG (Terrence Malick). 129 minutes. Opens Friday (April 7). See listing. Rating: NNNTerrence Malicks Song To Song is.

SONG TO SONG (Terrence Malick). 129 minutes. Opens Friday (April 7). See listing. Rating: NNN

Terrence Malicks Song To Song is another in the directors ongoing cycle of dreamy meditations on the complexities of the human soul, and for a certain segment of his following, just sinking into Malicks 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 isnt quite as unmoored as, say, To The Wonder or Knight Of Cups. And it definitely has more going on than last years 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, Berenice Marlohe, Cate Blanchett and Holly Hunter wander in and out of the action as well.

If you know Malicks work, you know what youre getting famous faces spinning, twirling and touching their way through a series of acting exercises (What dont 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Mara is a fascinating presence, and Goslings innate comic sensibility makes him stand out among the withdrawn murmurers that make up Malicks world.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 theres still a lot of spinning and twirling to get through.

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