Terrence Malick’s Song to Song follows two entwining love triangles in the landscapes of the lone star state of Texas. Set to the backdrop of the Austin music scene, we are witness to the young people’s view to relationships. Songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling) are struggling. Rich, handsome and wealthy music enthusiast, Cook (Michael Fassbender), ensnares waitress Rhonda (Natalie Portman). And thus an adventure through the millennial style of relationships ensues, a tale of seduction and betrayal through what looks like modern-day America.
After Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the closing moments of 2016 and David Lynch’s new season of Twin Peaks, Song to Song is another work that when watched, one can’t help but experience the feelings of what I imagine being stoned is like, or having the worst acid trip of your life. The dizzy visuals are fitting for a film set in the rock n roll music scene. By the film’s end, you may want to have a glass of water, but I think it’s worth every minute. Malick uses camera to create impressions of what love is in the what looks like “the today”, and I implore you to go in with zero expectations.
Songwriter Faye (Mara) is our main character and a rookie musician in Texas. Becoming involved with two men, the pure and honest Gosling, and the crooked producer Fassbender (Macbeth), a love triangle takes place. and it’s a wild one at that. Triangles of this sort have been happening since forever, and will always be clichéd in their Shakespearean aura. Cook’s moneyed up music producer is the evil menace to society. Ryan Gosling is back as a Sebastian spin-off. He’s an artist who loves art for art, and not for money. He’s an honest man, with no hidden agendas, and is good.
This film shows how awful human beings can be to those we supposedly care about. It’s a trait we all posses as members of the human race, but most of it is due to our species’ untameable addiction to perform. “Gender is performative”, and that goes for both genders. Quite honestly, humans are assholes to one another and will continue to be so. But this film also shows how our past can eventually catch up with us. History is in the past, but doesn’t always stay there. We try to fight against it. But it always finds a way to dampen lives, regardless if that is in a good or bad way.
I was never a fan of Ryan Gosling. For me, he was very average until Drive. Then he went off the radar for a few years until I saw him in The Big Short and Nice Guys. But most recently La La Land, and now Song to Song. I’m a recent fan. And his performance is really good here. He’s so casual and plays that relaxed artist stereotype to perfection, as well as “all artists being hopeless romantics”. Then you’ve got his polar opposite, Cook, played by Michael Fassbender (Shame). The contradictions of these characters shows the state of the dating scene in the post-2010 world. Romance is dead, as characters like Cook just want to have sex minutes after meeting someone.
Fassbender can steal scenes by just by standing there. In all seriousness, he’s a terrific actor with an excellent performance here being able to bring the anger he did to Edwin Epp’s in McQueen’s slavery drama and silent sadness he brought to the role of Macbeth in Justin Kurzel’s underrated masterpiece. Let’s not forget to mention his roles of David and Walter in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. He’s one of those actors who can deliver great performances, even if the film is bad. And Cook is a bad influence, destructive to all around him, as he brings drugs and mental mind games to the surface. Fassbender has a knack for playing “bad boys”, and he’s bloody good at it.
The brilliant ensemble cast also includes Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) and Holly Hunter (Batman V Superman). This is no coming of age drama, but I felt myself seeing its depiction of relationships as one uncanny to Edge of Seventeen or a Woody Allen flick like Annie Hall or Manhattan. It’s the millennial guide to dating and relationships, and it just shows how the souls of today’s young people, my generation have been thoroughly tampered with.