Song One Blu-ray review
There’s little traffic in the subway corridor, but he sits his song anyway: Luck is like a marble / On the stage / It waits / For our big break to fall. When he’s done, he sits down and starts writing another song to be sung for very few ears.
On the other side of the world, anthropology student Franny Ellis (Anne Hathaway, Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR) works on getting her PhD. It’s while she’s in Morocco that she learns she needs to come home: her brother, Henry (Ben Rosenfield, who played Willie Thompson on HBO’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE), was hit by a car after a night of playing in a New York City subway station. It’s been a long time since Franny has talked to her brother, and now that he’s in a coma, she may have already heard his last words.
While she’s home, Franny sets herself up in Henry’s bedroom, where she learns, through home recordings and notebooks, just how dedicated he is to his music. She comes up with the idea to track down Henry’s favorite singer, James Forrester (Johnny Flynn, frontman for the folk rock band Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit; he also appeared in Olivier Assayas’ CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA), in hopes of getting him to appear at his bedside. And, hey, if Marcia Brady can get Davy Jones to play at a school dance, why can’t a PhD hopeful get an underground singer-songwriter to show up at a Brooklyn hospital? (Not?) surprisingly, James shows up, which makes Franny a pretty groovy older sister and gives her a love interest to cling to while she’s in town.
Like Franny, SONG ONE has good intentions. But the movie often runs around playing the same note and the characters don’t do much outside of what is expected. The driving element of the movie is the relationship that blossoms between Franny and James—and that’s where the biggest issues arise. Isn’t Franny’s mission to do good for her brother complete once James and his acoustic guitar show up? If not, and Franny wants to learn more about her brother’s lifestyle through James’ music, does she need to do so while building a romance and letting her mother (Mary Steenburgen, 2013’s LAST VEGAS) do the bulk of the worrying? The entire thing comes off as Franny twisting the knife a bit, since when Henry comes out of the coma he’ll learn that his sister (who disregarded his musical ambitions from the start) is sharing high notes with the hero who didn’t even return his fan letter.
SONG ONE comes on the heels of BEGIN AGAIN, another indie music drama that relentlessly urged the viewer to appreciate folky music. (It should be noted that there are certainly a few nice songs, by Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice.) While not as hypocritical as John Carny’s BEGIN AGAIN, SONG ONE is still a stale effort from Kate Barker-Froyland.
SONG ONE premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The video quality is fine but doesn’t offer many details, especially in darker scenes, which are heavy on grain and come off flat.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English. The audio is quite nice, with clear dialogue, atmospheric sounds and a clean soundtrack.
Behind the Scenes Recording the Soundtrack (16:02): This featurette goes into the studio to see the recording of some of the original numbers featured in SONG ONE.
Deleted Scenes (4:17): There are four here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Franny & James Walking,” “Clint & James,” “Backstage” and “James Writing Silver Song.”