Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen, Ben Rosenfield
Written by: Kate Barker-Froyland
Directed by: Kate Barker-Froyland
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, and brief language
Running Time: 86
Date: 01/23/2015
IMDB

Song One (2015)

3 Stars (out of 4)

The Strum of Us

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I wanted to learn to love Anne Hathaway again. I feel like we had lost touch somehow, like we each wanted different things. After suffering through Les Misérables (2012) and Interstellar (2014), I wanted to see her in something not quite so heavy, lumbering, or self-important. I mostly got my wish with the featherweight movie Song One, which is Hathaway's producing debut. Looking more than a little bit like Once (2007), it tells a simple, wistful love story set in the world of music in a gritty, lonely-looking New York City.

Hathaway plays Franny, an anthropologist doing research in Morocco when she learns that her brother Henry (Ben Rosenfield) has been hit by a car and fallen into a coma. They had recently been fighting over Henry's decision to quit school and pursue music (he was hit while walking with his headphones on). Distraught, Franny begins pouring through Henry's journal, following it to the places and things that he likes. She discovers his favorite singer, James Forester (Johnny Flynn), watches his show, and tearfully gives him a CD with one of Henry's songs. The kindhearted James visits the hospital room, and thus begins a slow, tender romance.

The biggest threat is that James plans to return home (to England) at some point, and that he hasn't been able to write any new songs since his girlfriend left him (hint, hint). I think you can see where this is going, and how the three plot threads tie up. Mary Steenburgen helps quite a bit as Franny and Henry's loopy, scholarly mom who remembers Paris in the 1970s. (Jonathan Demme, who co-produced, previously directed Steenburgen to an Oscar in Melvin and Howard, and directed Hathaway to an Oscar nomination in Rachel Getting Married.)

In this movie, Hathaway is back at her best, incapable of delivering a false moment, and occupying even thin material with her full heart. While Flynn, a full-time musician, does an admirable job portraying the character's sadness and tentativeness. Writer/director Kate Barker-Froyland doesn't bother to disguise Song One as something it's not, and I, for one, can appreciate a good romance in which the lovers don't necessarily need to go to ridiculous extremes to win each other's hearts. Sometimes love just flows, like a simple song.

Song One received a small release at the beginning of 2015, and then Cinedigm released it on DVD and Blu-ray (I only received the DVD, so I can't comment on the high-def quality.) Extras include four minutes of deleted scenes, a featurette on the movie's music, and a trailer.

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