★ ★ / 10
Never have I wanted to walk out on a film as badly as I wanted to walk out on Song to Song, a convoluted pretentious piece of work that will kill you with handheld camera work and zero story. Someone actually did walk out, and I had to fight every urge to follow them, and after two hours and nine minutes, I have never been more glad for a film to be over. Director Terence Malik seems to be vying Woody Allen for the title of Director-Most-Up-His-Own-Arse, and Song to Song is an unwatchable artwork that managed to convince A-list stars to appear in this shaky mess.
A music producer (Michael Fassbender) entangles himself in the lives of two struggling musicians (Rooney Mara and Ryan Gosling), while trapping a desperate waitress (Natalie Portman) into a loveless marriage.
When any film is labelled as ‘experimental’ then one should always be wary. It’s a license for a filmmaker to do whatever the hell he wants with little regard for the viewing audience, and to me that’s a terrible filmmaker. Malik’s old work of course are masterpieces, but it seems he’s become victim to his own reputation and actors want to work for him purely because of his name and not for the content of his film. It makes me shudder even more that he had eight hours worth of footage, which led him to cut out major actors that already completed filming like Christian Bale, Benicio del Toro and Haley Bennet. They should be thankful they managed to evade the terror of the final cut.
Besides the sea-sickness camerawork that feels like it was shot on a DSLR, the couples were also far removed from real life. These characters and their love was written by someone who’s never been in a real relationship, and this is how he guesses people act when they’re in love or lust. I thought I was watching aliens, as they stare just off-centre and prance around rocks and touch-but-not-really-touch each other the whole time. Maybe Malik was focusing too hard on everyone’s butts rather than creating believable people, and no amount of ‘but it’s art!’ exclamations is going to make this film any more watchable.
The only aspect that I found vaguely interesting was the side characters, most of which are Texan musicians and other locals that aren’t necessarily acting. They were real people playing themselves, and their interactions with the main cast felt more like a documentary than fiction. This is a really cool idea to work into a film, especially if you have big name actors that the audience knows is giving a performance, and if it’s coupled with a worthwhile story that doesn’t make you want to gauge your eyes out. Maybe if Malik stepped away from the scripting process and just focused on directing he’d be able to regain his former glory.
If ever there’s a film to avoid at all costs for your sanity, Song to Song is the torture device that will make you wish for another Adam Sandler movie. I’m not even going to touch on the performances of the cast, because their only fault was agreeing to be in this flood of shallow emotions. All blame lies on the director, and whatever poor studio (never thought I’d say that) he hustled to fund this drivel.