2014 / Director. Kate Barker-Froyland.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Simple stories are often the most effective and when they’re placed within a musical environment they can become all the more emotive and powerful. SONG ONE is by no means an exceptional film, but it is a transcending one. It comes in the wake of a cinematic indie-music trend, following films such as ONCE, BEGIN AGAIN and NICK & NORA’S INFINITE PLAY LIST and it tells a touching story.
Anne Hathaway plays an anthropologist living in Morocco who is called home unexpectedly when her younger musician brother is hit by a car and stuck in a coma. Desperate to help him and repair their fractured relationship she pries into his creative life and attempts to arouse his senses. She explores the city’s clubs and bars, hoping to record live music that will awaken him. When she meets one of her brother’s heroes, played by Johnny Flynn, she finds herself falling in love in an awkward and seemingly inappropriate time.
SONG ONE is a basic premise that becomes a hypnotic personal journey thanks to fantastic original music (the soundtrack was composed by Jenny & Johnny) and three consummate performances from Hathaway, Flynn and Mary Steenburgen. I have always liked Anne Hathaway and right now she seems to be going from strength to strength. She is excellent in this film and it’s refreshing to see a performer of her calibre consistently turn their attention to independent cinema. Furthermore, the script is tidy and the production value is modest. Hathaway produced the film alongside Academy Award winning director Jonathan Demme (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) and their enthusiasm and passion for indie music helps solidify the project and prevent it from becoming kitschy.
Consider also that this is director Kate Barker-Froyland’s debut and all of a sudden the power of it becomes all the more obvious. It is a moody and sombre film that is, in turn, inspiring and uplifting. Its poor reception amongst critics has me bemused and I highly recommend it.