Friday, January 30, 2015

[Review] Song One

Anne Hathaway and Johnny Flynn star in this music-driven, down-to-earth drama that is in the vein of Once and Begin Again, but closer in story to 2013's The Broken Circle Breakdown.

Franny (Hathaway), a traveling PHD student, learns that her estranged younger brother, Henry (Ben Rosenfield of Boardwalk Empire) is in a coma after getting hit by a car. One night, she ends up reading through his journal and finds a concert ticket for a singer-songwriter named James Forester (Henry's favorite artist), played by actual singer-songwriter Johnny Flynn. After the show, Franny approaches James and hesitatingly tells the story about her brother, even though she figures he probably hears this stuff all the time. Much to her surprise, James shows up at the hospital to visit the next day. Franny and James start hanging out, and what follows is a romance, a path of wish fulfillment & attempting to make amends, and a trial of the way music can connect and move us.

While the narrative starts feeling a bit thin as the film plucks along, and the love story itself is very typical, the music aspect is consistently great--from the full live performances to the intimate acoustic clips. Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice produced this cohesive collection of sweet and accessible folk songs that all come off as very genuine. Sharon Van Etten (!) even makes an appearance. And Anne Hathaway and Johnny Flynn are both really solid in their understated roles.

When it comes to Song One, the film is likeable, albeit forgettable. But the soundtrack is one that stays.


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