Song to Song to Wait, What?
In the last few years, I've seen several Terrence Malick movies: "The Tree of Life," "To the Wonder," "Knight of Cups." In order to enjoy them, one must be open-minded or at least in a Terrence Malick kind of mood. What are Malick's movies about? Everything and nothing. What is the plot? Good luck. How is the dialogue? Um. These movies are collagist, impressionistic, dreamscapes in which love/pain/desire/rejection/rebirth/death/ecstasy all coexist, interweave, and pulse with a curious kind of life that makes, well, the act of living seem more alive on the screen than in reality. His latest, "Song to Song," could be said to be about the Austin music scene, or a study of several men and several women whose love lives intersect, or a fucking mess. It all depends on you. Manohla Dargis has it right: Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman deliver the standout performances while Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara sometimes appear to be engaging in acting exercises. What does that mean? It's hard to say. Malick likes to linger on Mara's hip bones, pour over vignettes in which lovers' bodies intertwine in unmet longing, open wide to bear witness to grand landscapes in which the awesome beauty of the universe consumes the smallness of us attempting to find one another in it. There's a brief and tragically lovely appearance by Cate Blanchett. The homes in which these beautiful people wander are striking glass boxes that attempt to contain the fragility of their occupants. There's some hot lesbian groping. What does it all mean? I have no idea. The alternative is one more phony plot with stilted dialogue that's supposed to capture the human experience but does little more than package it into something that feels like Spam.