Song to Song Screen 71 of 19 reviews

Song to Song

2017

Song to Song Poster
  • Malick's control has allowed him to whittle his films down to bare essentials. He’s learned exactly which moments he needs. The central triangle of Song to Song holds echoes of the passions at the core of Days of Heaven, but Malick’s means of communicating them have evolved. “Stuffed” is not an inapt word for describing Song to Song, for as much as it is a film overflowing with sights and sounds, it also seems crammed into the nooks of Austin as Malick was observing it.

  • There’s evenness to the deployment, whilst ideas progress—far more intricately and mysteriously than it might seem. Malick’s associative progressions elude easy interpretation, playing more like a jazz soloist’s embellishments than an ascending scale. And motifs do arise, most evidently trees, windows, caressed bellies, and in Will Patterson’s virtuosic sound design, invasions of crickets and birds and wind overtaking dialogue.

  • The fact that 73-year-old Malick continues to provoke even with a comparatively “minor” set of films (after the grand historical and cosmological ambitions of The New World [2005] and The Tree of Life) speaks to just how ahead of his time he remains. The greatest artistic provocation of all is that of surprising, strange, and innovative art that dares the ridiculous in the pursuit of beauty. One day we’ll look back on this period of Malick’s career and rue that we didn’t realize that.

  • Malick instills his movies with a fresh-eyed-babe sensibility, a sense of wonder, that though oft-imitated, can never be replicated. The dinosaurs are a tribute to that, and so is every second of Song to Song, which, for the predictability of its romantic and professional conclusions, feels fresh by virtue of uncovering nooks in the story, and in the lives of the characters, that other directors typically overlook — or can’t imagine.

  • Despite Malick’s daringly collage-like assemblage of images that only dart across the surfaces of their narrative elements, the movie has a rich, complex, thoroughly imagined plot of a novelistic amplitude. Going into detail about the story is, above all, proof that the movie has a story—that Malick is not a captive of his finely crafted style but, rather, able to deploy it to realize a dramatically engrossing world.

  • In a series of arresting vignettes, Malick surveys the nether regions of the festival grounds, happening upon such famous figures as Anthony Kiedis, Tegan and Sara, and Lykke Li if only to divert his camera away from their faces in favor of passing details around them. During these scenes, the presence of the camera—darting to and fro, reacting spontaneously to the moment as though entirely unfazed by glamour—is palpably felt like never before in Malick's filmography.

  • To the Wonder was effectively a dance performance in which characters' movements revealed their relationships and emotions; Knight of Cups was a debauched fantasia in which the bizarre, rapid-fire progression of images and sounds and bodies mimicked the protagonist's intoxicated, alienated mental state. [In] Song to Song... the focus is on the derangement of love, on how the literal imbalance and free-fall of passion eventually turn into the equilibrium of constancy.

  • Malick's method aligns beautifully with the young people at the heart of Song to Song, its formal qualities perfectly complementing their drive to seek out new adventures, risk failure, find their own place in the world—to live, simply. Song to Song is Terrence Malick’s own ode to youth, and what a gloriously romantic and unpredictable hymn it is.

  • It's not explicitly concerned with spirituality, as other Malick films are, yet the spiritual force that animates virtually all his work is impossible to overlook. Whether the film succeeds as a whole is less important than the seriousness of its intent—it's worth experiencing and grappling with... Malick has come closest to trailblazers like Bresson in his development of a filmic language all his own.

  • A new Malick film is no longer a monumental event but a miniature piece of a much larger whole. So while the usual suspects will say that he's repeating himself, I say he's searching. This marks a progression—if not necessarily an improvement—on the two before it. It's a story first and a spiritual allegory second, even if the story gets unwieldy by the end. Amidst frustration, moments of pure transcendence.

  • Even at his most indulgent, Malick brings something to the movies that no one else ever has, a way of looking at the world that is easily imitated but has never been equaled. It’s worth sifting through the sometimes half-baked philosophizing and breathy poeticism to see through his eyes.

  • Seriousness in cinema is often viewed with suspicion and that’s as true now as it was when, say, Antonioni shook up the art. The difference is that now seriousness is rarely part of a wider discussion, because that conversation is dominated by corporate cinema... There is, by contrast, much to admire in Song to Song and much to argue with, including its ideas about pleasure and women. So go, fall into its embrace, resist its charms, argue. This may not be a film to love, but it is a film to see.

  • Even more so than Knight of Cups, there is something formally off in Song to Song, something having to do with the rhythm of the editing and especially the length of individual shots. Frequently Malick and Lubezki would begin to describe an arc around an actor (usually Rooney Mara), and the shot would end just a few degrees of motion sooner than it should have... there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the shots that followed, other than a desire to move the film to another character or locale.

  • It features every stylistic trick in the Malick playbook: skies dotted with lustrous clouds, characters murmuring their deepest thoughts in voice-over ("I forget what I am. Whose I am."), birds and butterflies flitting around like silent, restless witnesses. Song to Song is slightly less pretentious than Malick's last film, the 2015 sigh of ennui Knight of Cups, though it features just as many miniature actresses.

  • The first Malick film I’ve watched where the dots never came together to form a legible image... There are times when the storytelling might remind you instead of a book report by a student who wants you to think he read the book cover to cover when he actually just skimmed the dust jacket five minutes ago. It doesn’t help that Gosling and his siblings’ resentment of their dad, the central love triangle and other elements are all rehashed from recent Malick films.

  • The power of love in Song to Song is strangely inarticulate. Over and again, one of the two pairings has been placed in a photogenic environment and, it seems, told to flirt. The business these fine actors come up with is oddly childish—little dances, making faces, poking a stalk of grass up Mara’s nostril and just generally goofing around, all the while avoiding eye contact and all but telegraphing a sense of helplessness, a lack of direction.

  • Two hours and change in the company of these characters reveals virtually nothing about any of them, even though the leads—as is the case in every Malick film—continually relay their innermost thoughts in whispery voiceover. Replace the entire cast with catalog models and the movie would play much the same, and look far more honest.

  • I thought Song To Song was ass-numbing drivel. It’s an Adam and Eve story that, aside from some scenes filmed at Austin music festivals, has the mise en scène of porn. This is a statement of fact: Much of the movie is set in hotel suites and realtor-ready mid-sized mansions that look like the crew rented them about two hours before filming, with the actors tossing around bed linens and touching each other’s faces in an endless clothed dance that approximates sex.

  • Each new film that Terrence Malick, the once notoriously unhurried director, has made in the rash of projects since Tree of Life (2011) evinces a further regression, an increasingly witless sacralizing of male-female coupledom... The auteurist affectations and tics that have come to define the various labile dyads... in Song to Song and its immediate predecessors, To the Wonder (2012) and Knight of Cups (2015), have produced in this viewer a condition that I can only diagnose as heterophobia.

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