Welcome back to Malickland, the perma-twilight world where Hollywood’s most beautiful wander around fields/beaches/city underpasses while their disconnected musings whisper on the soundtrack. Terrence Malick’s eighth drama doesn’t deviate a jot from his normal MO.
Thematically, it is perhaps closest to the portrayal of jealousy and betrayal in 2012’s To The Wonder, but Malick finds a more engaging iteration of these emotions, still shot through with formally exquisite filmmaking but buoyed by the movie-star charisma of Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara and particularly Ryan Gosling.
In outline, Song To Song is a simple relationship drama about an aspiring musician, Faye (Mara), who flits between likeable songwriter BV (Gosling), and predatory music producer Cook (Fassbender, doing his pervy scoundrel thing) In Malick’s hands, this wisp of a plot becomes a framework to hang a series of fragments illustrating the film’s central idea — the search for living an authentic life, be it through romantic love, parental connections, sex or music.
Malick certainly doesn’t shy away from Big Themes: nature versus grace, the difficulty of monogamy and the difference between our public and private lives all come under the microscope.