I understand the frustration many have with Malick’s style. His films are poetic puzzles in motion. Putting a jigsaw puzzle together is challenging; doing so while the pieces are floating is damn near impossible. But once you complete that moving puzzle, the reward is even greater.
Many of Malick’s films contain seemingly conventional plots – criminals on the run, men in war, coming-of-age in Texas, love gained and love lost. Yet they are told in ways we aren’t used to seeing, specifically as it relates to the convention of time. Time is a construct. Man invented numbers, dates, orders, months. We follow time, because the structure of life dictates it. But in storytelling, it’s possible for time to be obscured. Time always goes in order, but memory doesn’t have to.
Everyone in the film is uniformly excellent, even if their performances are presented in a tangled manner. Fassbender’s quiet, resentful rage bursts through Malick’s fractured narrative, proving again that the actor is one of the best we have. And Lykke Li (a talented singer making her mainstream film debut) carries herself with a confident vulnerability that is utterly arresting. You can always count on a Malick film to look great, and Song to Song is no exception. Shot by Emmanuel Lubezki (perhaps film’s greatest living cinematographer), Song to Song is captured with wide angles and fisheye shots, leaving nothing out of the frame, while making us curious what’s around the corner.
I appreciate Malick’s style. It challenges me. It forces me to look at love and life and hell and pain in new ways. Few films have the ability to do that. Regarding Song to Song, I simply ask that the next time you’re telling someone a story, be aware of how you’re telling it. Where do you begin and where do you end? Did you forget something? Maybe you’re already done, but open it back up to add something new. It was really important, so you put it in. That’s Song to Song. It isn’t wrong, it’s just the way some stories are told. A-
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