Song to Song (2017)
Terrence Malick's latest film completes a trilogy that began with To the Wonder (2012) and Knight of Cups (2015). Devotees of Malick (like me) will love this film, whereas detractors will find it a ponderous mishmash that lacks any coherence or structure (a paltry 5.5 on Rotten Tomatoes). Like the first two films, there's no linear narrative in "Song to Song," just a succession of dreamy film fragments with whispery voice overs. This particular story follows two couples in hipster Austin, Texas. These deeply lost prodigals specialize in hedonistic excess, which, for a while, looks fun. But the end is never in doubt — however superficially enviable, a life dedicated to wanton pleasure is a spiritual train wreck waiting to happen. "I revolted against goodness," one character admits. Says another, in a moment of enlightenment, "I never thought of myself as a person who needed mercy." There's no judgmentalism here by Malick, just a lament for so much of what drives our contemporary culture — sex, money, power, and prestige. The two couples are played by Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, and Natalie Portman. Even if this is not your cup of tea, the film is still worth watching for the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki.