Take a Drink: anytime a indie song plays
Take a Drink: during each conversation on a rough top
Take a Drink: anytime Franny records a sound
Take a Drink: anytime the characters do
Do a Shot: for Pancakes
By: Matt Conway (Four Beers) –
For some reason, Anne Hathaway is one of the most beloved actresses in Hollywood, but also one of the most despised. The reason why is kind of silly and truly not her fault. Back during the 2012 Oscar season, critics and people alike started to get annoyed with her winning ever major award, along with her rather lengthy speeches. The led many to coin the term “Hathahate”.
As an actress however, Hathaway has done some great work throughout her career. She obviously was great in her Oscar winning role in Les Mis, but Hathaway also has quite a few impressive performances that have been unappreciated. From being very charming in the underrated Love and Other Drugs to a winning dramatic role in Rachel Getting Married, Hathaway has shown her versatility and talent. Her latest film Song One, however, is a less than successful endeavor.
Song One follows Franny, who after nearly six months away from home returns with the news of her brother Henry being in a coma. During her visit, she strikes a chord with James Forester, who is Henry’s favorite musician.
Song One is a movie based around the music that fills each scene, and it’s probably the film’s best trait. Produced and written by Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice of the indie rock duo Jenny and Johnny, the music in the film fits each scene perfectly. Not only do they fit the film contextually, but they are also catchy melodies that stuck with me even after the film was over.
With the duo only writing the songs, it was up to the cast to perform a majority of them, and they are very much up to task. Johnny Flynn, aka front man of underrated British folk group Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit, has proven his musical talents before, and does a fantastic job with each of his musical numbers. Anne Hathaway also has had some vocal experience, and holds her own sharing the screen with Flynn.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of Song One in general is Flynn, who really shows himself to be a promising talent despite his lack of experience. Flynn shines in perhaps the most fleshed out role in the film as James, an indie rock sensation who is an almost reluctant celebrity struggling to fight a creative block he is facing. He certainly has a future in this industry.
The film has an undeniable, earnest charm throughout its brief running time. Song One has quite a few moments, especially between Hathaway and Flynn, such as the film’s finale, which are quite sweet and touching. First time director and writer Kate Barker-Froyland shows quite a bit of talent with her efforts here, creating some rather genuine moments and a real easy-going flow to the film itself.
However, Barker-Froyland’s debut is plagued with issues. Despite giving a good effort and not necessarily being bad in the film, Anne Hathaway feels miscast in the role. As Franny, the character is very sullen and introverted, qualities that Hathaway is not really known for. The role felt like a waste of her talents, and felt like it could have been played better by other actresses.
The film often struggles with pacing, and in general feels stretched out to fit a feature film running time. At only 86 minutes long, the film should not feel as long as it does. This is mainly due to the film often times being quite repetitive, with its middle act having a rinse and repeat type situation with Franny and James going to different clubs.
Aside from the lead actors, the few side characters in the film feel rather underdeveloped. Academy Award-winning actress Mary Steenburgen is in the film, but is largely underdeveloped as Franny’s cynical and somewhat manic mother. Then there is Ben Rosenfield as the comatose Henry, who the audience learns little about aside from his interest in indie rock and not going to college. Learning more about these character would have benefited the film dramatically a great deal.
Song One‘s biggest flaw is that the film truly does not land with its audience dramatically. While the characters in the film are likable, the big dramatic moments in the film itself feel too slight. Barker-Froyland’s script in general lacks any central conflict, with there needing to be more going on to really wake up the film’s mellow state.
Song One is an honest effort by all involved, but does little to stand out from the average indie drama. It will have its fans, but most would be better off to just check out this film’s great soundtrack instead.