The last three Terrence Malick films play out like an episode of the BBC nature documentary series Planet Earth. Except instead of following a mountain lion or a humming bird, Malick follows around spoiled, rich, white people. And one might argue there’s more point and plot found in the Planet Earth series. That doesn’t always mean disaster. Each film has their own positives, but it’s tough to find anything other than beautiful images to be excited about in SONG TO SONG.
I hesitate to use the word “plot” to describe anything in SONG TO SONG, but if you had to break it down into a general focus, it would be on a love triangle between BV (Gosling), Faye (Mara) and Cook (Fassbender). The film follows them as they sleep with each other and other random people before attempting to find their way back together. I believe he was trying to make a statement about love and sex and the way societal pressures on love influence the decisions we make. I could be wrong with that because there’s not enough of a coherent plot to really decipher any larger themes, but one thing I think Malick misses when he tries to show the love between a man and a woman is that the audience has to care. Much like TO THE WONDER, the audience just doesn’t care about these obnoxious characters sleeping around in their mansions. In order for love to resonate with an audience, we need more than just beautiful people.
You might have heard that a lot of the film was shot in Austin during the music festival and you may even know that there’s a lot of the festival that made it into the film. What you may not know is that music has virtually nothing to do with the film. SONG TO SONG is an incoherent mess anyway, but there’s added frustration that a general theme of music and performing was hardly brushed upon, yet so much of the film has random festival scenes included in it. At times, it felt like Malick just wanted an excuse to meet some of his kids’ favorite musicians.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the time to comment on how beautiful the film looked. You know when you’re making home movies and you sometimes accidentally get a beautiful shot of something? That’s what the entire film feels like; it’s just a collection of beautiful shots that alone, might mean something but when spliced together, they’re just a jumbled mess. They’re beautiful, but still a mess.
After TREE OF LIFE, I spent a lot of time proclaiming Terrence Malick as one of the most brilliant directors working today. But even I have to admit I’m sick of his experimental drivel. I chalked up TO THE WONDER as a misfire and I tried to see the subtle beauty in KNIGHT OF CUPS, but I’m out of excuses with SONG TO SONG. I’ve read that Malick wants to get back to making more traditional films and I for one couldn’t be happier.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: I think if you’re going to force yourself to watch SONG TO SONG, there’s no better way than on 4K. I would say all of Malick’s films are made for 4K and even if the video isn’t absolutely supreme at times, the scenes on screen make the most out of the 4K format. I believe this was taken from a 4K source file and it’s just as impressive as you might expect. It’s tough to pinpoint any one specific scene because the film isn’t really shot in “scenes”, at least not in the traditional sense, but anything with a silhouette of the sun is a good representation of how great the video looks. Malick loves his sunsets and as you see the sun light up the actor’s faces or the backgrounds, you can see the HDR come through, making the shot look just as beautiful as it was probably intended. I’m not sure if I could ever sit through SONG TO SONG again, but I could definitely see myself putting the 4K in just to marvel at what Malick was able to capture on film.
Audio: We get the same DTS track included on the Blu-ray.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any new features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special feature:
The Music Behind the Movie (2:01): This is a misleading title sine half of this two minute feature is spent talking about the film. The other half is used to point out all of the real musicians in the film.