First Hit: Although I’m generally a fan of Director Terrence Malik’s work, especially the visualizations, this film felt lifeless and unmoving all the way through. A Malik film like Knight of Cups, touched me deeply and at that moment, I think I’m aligned with Malik’s vision. However, other films he does I might end up liking the pictures and the theme is lost on me.
In this film, few of the pictures were good and I wondered what the point was. Could it have been that if one takes a bite of the apple (signed to a music record deal) then the world opens up. However it only seemed to opened up with increased opportunities for sexual encounters? If so, then I was left thinking; so what. If the point of the film was viewing how the music life in Austin (Malik went to school in Austin) exists and the people in it are just intimately experimenting with others, and they seem to live in a Song to Song way, then so what. I didn't get the point of the film.
Ryan Gosling plays BV who is a musician who gets signed to a record label run by Cook (Michael Fassbender) who is living the big life, filled with things, women, and connections with bands and rock stars. He's pulling the strings, at least around Austin. One of the women he’s linked with is Faye (Rooney Mara).
Faye meets BV at one of Cook’s parties and they begin to have a relationship. However, because they don’t tell each other the truth and they mostly live through their sexuality and what they can feel, the relationship gets convoluted. Faye still has sex with Cook and BV spends time with his old girlfriends Lykke (Lykke Li) and Amanda (Cate Blanchett).
Cook marries Rhonda (Natalie Portman) but has sex with Faye and Faye has sex with Zoey (Berenice Marlohe). There is a lot more of this that goes on in the film, but because it is a Malik film, it is very stylized, virtually no conversational dialogue, and it jumps from place and scene to a different place and scene frequently.
The pictures around Austin were nice and, to me, better than the actual place as I found it more Texan than shown here.
Gosling was good in many sections but the lack of story direction seemed to make him more lost than usual. Mara was one the better parts of this film. Her face and looks are so filled with questions, depth, and searching energy that it fit well in this film. Fassbender was good as the guy who liked money, power, and the things it allowed him to do. Portman was interesting as her intelligence and darkness shined through her scenes. Marlohe was OK as the attractive woman who seduced Faye. Blanchett was OK as this role didn’t really take advantage of her conversational abilities. Holly Hunter as Rhonda’s mom was intense. Malik did the screenplay and it would be interesting to see what it was and how he scripted the scenes. His direction was muddied if what he wanted was the audience to feel something.
Overall: This film just didn’t work well for me and I found myself sitting there wondering when it would be over.