Song One Review
When a film begins with a man getting hit by a car it's certainly not going to be a feel good movie. Song One sets a melancholy tone right out of the gate, and remains dreary most of the way through, even as it tries for quirky and spontaneous, its too forced and heavy handed, with a lead character that doesn't deserve the praise or attention she's given.
When street musician Henry (Ben Rosenfield) gets struck by a car, his estranged sister Franny (Anne Hathaway) returns home and tries to get to know the brother she turned her back on by rifling through his things. Franny hasn't spoken to her brother in months because she disagrees with his choice to drop out of college and pursue music, but seeing him in a coma, she regrets their fight, and lost time.
Franny looks through Henry's room, discovering things she never took the time to learn about her brother before, like his favorite musician James Forester (Johnny Flynn), and frequenting some of the hot spots around New York that Henry loved. After finding a pair of tickets to an upcoming show of Forester, Franny takes it upon herself to not only attend the show, but to give to Forester one of Henry's songs on a CD after telling him what happened to her brother. To say the least its an awkward exchange, one that Flynn depicts perfectly.
Even after the awkwardness of their meeting Forester comes to Henry's hospital room, and its the beginning of a romance between he and Franny. Henry isn't instantly healed through the power of music, instead Flynn is there to give Franny an outlet for her guilt and anxiety over her brother.
Song One could be a very touching an emotional affair, and yet it lacks anything other than melancholy. Anne Hathaway does little more than bounce between two looks: on the verge of tears, or annoyance, neither of which make the audience sympathetic towards her. One of the many unfortunate things of Song One is that rather than paying any attention to Franny's complete mistreatment of her brother prior to his accident, she is instead celebrated for coming home, never acknowledging that she was the one that completely tore the family apart.
Johhny Flynn has the rocker dreamboat thing down. He's shy, and awkward and just the right amount of insecure. Mary Steenburgen makes an appearance as Franny's mother, and she beautifully tranforms from self-absorbed to gentle and motherly as Franny's character softens up a bit.
While Song One does boast a really good indie sound track, a humorless film too focused on a nearly unlikable character pretty much dooms the entire piece.
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