Song to Song (2017): Malick’s Romantic Drama, Starring Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman.

Arguably Terence Malick’s least coherent film to date, Song to Song aims to be an experimental romantic melodrama, boasting a stellar ensemble of the best actors working today: Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman.

The film world premiered at the 2017 SXSW Fest, and was briefly released by Broad Green Pictures.  Suffering from poor critical response–the worst Malick has ever received–Song to Song disappeared from theaters very quickly.

Set in Austin, Texas (where Malick resides), the tale centers on a young woman named Faye (Mara), a guitarist aspiring to a successful career as musician. She starts an affair with record producer Cook (Fassbender), hoping to get his help. At the same time, she begins a relationship with BV (Gosling), who’s also working with Cook. Cook and Faye keep their affair a secret from BV and the three take a trip together to Mexico.

Rhonda (Portman), a former kindergarten teacher working as a waitress at a diner, is courted by Cook, leading to marriage. When business gets rough, Cook and BV terminate their professional relationship and personal friendship.

Faye feels increasingly guilty about her affair with Cook, and finally tells BV, who breaks up with her. Faye then has a relationship with Zoey, a French woman living in the US. Rhonda begins to feel uncomfortable with Cook’s wild lifestyle of sex and drugs. BV dates New Yorker Amanda but they break up too.

Rhonda takes her own life, leaving Cook in a state of shock.  Faye and BV start dating again. Later, BV moves back west to his hometown to take care of his sick father and pursue a simpler life, at a drilling rig.  In the end, Faye follows him and the two reunite.

Initially the film’s title was Weightless, though it was later changed to Song to Song.

Post-production on the film took longer than expected due to the film’s ultra-long first cut (eight-hours)

Visually sumptuous as it is narratively spare, Song to Song recycles elements of the writer-director’s previous features, but without further development.

Most critics dismissed Song to Song as an incoherent and disconnected feature, full of minutiae details that don’t add up to a consistent whole (a recurrent problem of Malick’s recent oeuvre).

Cast

Ryan Gosling as BV

Michael Fassbender as Cook

Rooney Mara as Faye

Natalie Portman as Rhonda

Cate Blanchett as Amanda

Holly Hunter as Miranda

Tom Sturridge as BV’s Brother

Austin Amelio as BV’s Brother

Linda Emon as Judy, BV’s Mother