Song to Song

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Song to Song
Four tiled and colored images of the four main leads, with a black LP sleeve containing the title and credits at the center.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTerrence Malick
Produced by
Written byTerrence Malick
CinematographyEmmanuel Lubezki
Edited by
Distributed byBroad Green Pictures
Release date
  • March 10, 2017 (2017-03-10) (SXSW)
  • March 17, 2017 (2017-03-17) (United States)
Running time
129 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,027,769[2]

Song to Song is a 2017 American experimental romantic drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick and starring an ensemble cast including Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, and Natalie Portman.

After a lengthy post-production period of over three years, the film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 10, 2017, and was released in the United States on March 17, 2017, by Broad Green Pictures. Critical reception for the film was mixed.[3]


In Austin, Texas, Faye is a guitarist looking for success as a musician. She starts an affair with record producer Cook, hoping that he will help her. Then she begins a relationship with BV, who has had slightly more success than she and is also working with Cook. Cook and Faye keep their affair a secret from BV and the three take a trip together to Mexico.

Rhonda is a former kindergarten teacher working as a waitress at a diner, where she is courted by Cook. The two eventually marry and he buys her mother a house. Business gets rough between Cook and BV and their professional relationship and friendship end.

Faye feels increasingly guilty about her affair with Cook, and finally tells BV, who breaks up with her. Faye then has a relationship with Zoey, a French woman living in the US. Rhonda begins to feel uncomfortable with Cook's wild lifestyle, which includes sex with other women and drugs. BV dates New Yorker Amanda for some time, but eventually they break up too.

Rhonda takes her own life, leaving Cook shocked and saddened. Faye and BV reconnect and start dating again. Later, BV moves back west to his hometown to take care of his sick father and the rest of his family, and pursues a simpler life, taking a job as a worker at a drilling rig. Faye follows him and the two of them declare their eternal love for each other.


Florence Welch, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, The Black Lips, Alan Palomo, John Lydon, Flea, Spank Rock, Tegan Quin, Sara Quin, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith, Josh Klinghoffer, First Aid Kit, Erik Sprague and Big Freedia, all make cameo appearances in the film.



In November 2011 it was announced that Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Haley Bennett had been cast in the film.[4][5] The film was originally titled Lawless, but Malick allowed filmmaker John Hillcoat to use the title for his 2012 film.[6] When the film was announced as in pre-production in November 2011 the production company was FilmNation Entertainment and its producers were Sarah Green and Nicolas Gonda.[4][5] In November 2012 it was announced that Bérénice Marlohe had joined the cast.[7] It was revealed in March 2015 the title was Weightless.[8] In February 2016 Sarah Green confirmed the title was Weightless, but it was later changed to Song to Song.[9] In December 2016 it was announced that Iggy Pop, John Lydon, Arcade Fire, Alan Palomo, Iron & Wine, Fleet Foxes and The Black Lips would appear in the film.[10][11]


Terrence Malick and Christian Bale at Austin City Limits during the filming of Song to Song, 2011.

Rooney Mara said in December 2011 that filming was scheduled to begin in September 2012.[12] That month, scenes were shot in Austin, Texas.[13][14] In March 2012 Alan Palomo of Neon Indian shot scenes for the film.[15][16] In October 2012 Mara, Michael Fassbender, Florence Welch and Holly Hunter were spotted on set filming.[17][18] Mara said in an interview that Patti Smith shot scenes for the film, playing herself.[19] In November 2012 Val Kilmer was spotted filming.[20] Christian Bale only shot three days on the film.[21]


Post-production on the film took longer than expected because the film's eight-hour first cut required Malick to ask the financiers and studios more than once for additional time.[22][23]

In October 2013 Michael Fassbender provided voice-over that the actor said might be cut from the completed film: "I'm not sure [if I'm in the final cut]. I've got to go actually and do some more voice-over ... just like reams and reams of that."[24] Bale also expressed doubts about whether he would appear, saying in November 2013, "I unfortunately wasn't able to do everything I was meant to do, so I ended up doing like three, four days on that. Which in Terry's world means you're never going to see me in it."[25] In January 2016 Mara revealed she did voice-over for the film.[26]

Bale, Haley Bennett, Benicio del Toro, Arcade Fire, Iron & Wine, Fleet Foxes, Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes and Angela Bettis were all cut from the film.[27][28][29]


In February 2015 Broad Green Pictures acquired U.S distribution rights to the film.[30] It had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 10, 2017.[31] The film was released on March 17, 2017.[32]


Song to Song has polarized film critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 43% approval rating based on 122 critics and an average rating of 5.37/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "As visually sumptuous as it is narratively spartan, Terrence Malick's Song to Song echoes elements of the writer-director's recent work—for better and for worse."[3] On Metacritic the film holds a rating of 54 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[33]

In a five-star review for The Independent, Christopher Hooton claimed that it has become fashionable among critics to ridicule Malick's recent films, but that given a chance the film is a "masterpiece" and even "life-changing".[34] In Entertainment Weekly, Joe McGovern derided it as "incoherent, disconnected, self-interrupting, obsessed with pointless minutiae and crammed full of odd, limp stabs at profundity [...] you’ll find yourself searching in the margins of each shot for something or someone tangible to grasp onto."[35]

Film critic Matt Zoller Seitz of gave the film two and a half out of four stars. Although he had always praised Malick's work and style in the past ("I don't believe that the Austin-based director has ever made a bad movie"), he wrote that Song to Song "is the first Malick film I’ve watched where the dots never came together to form a legible image", emphasizing the film's need for more "rhetorical connective tissue" that would further connect to the film's themes as well as better characterizations, because of the film's highly chaotic nature. Seitz concluded that the film is "a brainy concept album made up of B-sides and filler. The musicianship is superb but the songs needed work."[36]


  1. ^ "Song to Song". South by Southwest. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  2. ^ "Song to Song (2017) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Nash Information Services.
  3. ^ a b "Song to Song (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Lodderhose, Diana (November 1, 2011). "Bale, Blanchett to star in two Terrence Malick pics". Variety. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Lawless". FilmNation Entertainment. November 21, 2011. Archived from the original on February 27, 2012.
  6. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (February 8, 2012). "Natalie Portman Joins Terrence Malick's 'Lawless' & 'Knight of Cups'". IndieWire. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  7. ^ Kit, Borys (November 2, 2012). "Bond Girl Berenice Marlohe Joins Terrence Malick's Latest All-Star Drama (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  8. ^ Pearce, Leonard (March 27, 2015). "Terrence Malick Sets Title For Forthcoming Drama With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & More". The Film Stage. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  9. ^ "SBIFF 2016 - Centerpiece Film "Knight of Cups" Sarah Green Interview". Santa Barbara International Film Festival via YouTube. February 8, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  10. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (December 29, 2016). "Michael Fassbender Plays A "Lucifer"-Like Character In Terrence Malick's 'Weightless,' Shares Scenes With Iggy Pop & John Lydon". The Playlist. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
  11. ^ Trunick, Austin (January 13, 2016). "Neon Indian - Alan Palomo on Acting, Scoring, and "VEGA INTL. Night School"". Under the Radar Magazine. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
  12. ^ Brunner, Rob (December 26, 2011). "Rooney Mara talks future projects, promoting 'Dragon Tattoo': 'Everyone is like, So, the rape scene. Was that hard?'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  13. ^ Fowler, Brandi (September 26, 2012). "Ryan Gosling Kisses Rooney Mara: Pretty Pair Shoots Scenes for Terrence Malick Movie". E! News. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  14. ^ Sacks, Ethan (September 27, 2012). "Ryan Gosling & Rooney Mara sizzle on the Austin set of Terrence Malick-directed music drama". Daily News. New York City. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  15. ^ Pelly, Jenn (March 21, 2012). "Neon Indian's Alan Palomo Shoots Scenes for Terrence Malick Film With Rooney Mara". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  16. ^ Trunick, Austin (January 13, 2016). "Neon Indian - Alan Palomo on Acting, Scoring, and "VEGA INTL. Night School"". Under the Radar. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  17. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (October 15, 2012). "Watch: Rooney Mara Plays With Black Lips As Terrence Malick Returns To Austin City Limits; Florence Welch Appears With Cast". IndieWire. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  18. ^ Lyttelton, Oliver (October 4, 2012). "Holly Hunter Latest Actor To Join, Probably Get Cut Out Of, Terrence Malick's Next Film". IndieWire. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  19. ^ "Rooney Mara Reveals Patti Smith Shot Scenes For Terrence Malick's Austin Music Scene Movie aka 'Weightless'". IndieWire. October 28, 2015. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  20. ^ Zakarin, Jordan (November 5, 2012). "Val Kilmer Goes Wild On-Stage in Austin for Terrence Malick's Rock Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
  21. ^ Weintraub, Steve 'Frosty' (March 3, 2016). "Christian Bale on 'Knight of Cups' and the Process of Working with Terrence Malick". Collider. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  22. ^ Brooks, Brian (March 11, 2017). "Terrence Malick's 'Song To Song' Could Have Been A Miniseries – SXSW". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  23. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (March 11, 2017). "Watch: 30-Minute 'Song To Song' Talk With Terrence Malick, Says First Cut Was 8 Hours". Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  24. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (October 30, 2013). "Michael Fassbender Uncertain He'll Make The Cut In Terrence Malick's Austin Movie, William Friedkin Disses 'To The Wonder'". IndieWire. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  25. ^ Thompson, Anne (November 27, 2013). "Oscar Nominee Christian Bale Holds His Roles to a High Standard, from 'American Hustle' to 'Out of the Furnace'". IndieWire. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 18, 2013. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  26. ^ Rooney Mara (January 28, 2016). "Conversations with Rooney Mara of CAROL". SAG-AFTRA Foundation (Interview). Interviewed by Joe McGovern. YouTube. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  27. ^ Phillips, Amy (March 7, 2017). "Lykke, Patti, Iggy, and More: Every Musician in Terrence Malick's Song to Song". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  28. ^ Donnelly, Matt (March 10, 2017). "Christian Bale, Benicio del Toro, Haley Bennett All Cut From Terrence Malick's 'Song to Song' at SXSW". The Wrap. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  29. ^ Kimble, Julian (March 7, 2017). "'Moonlight' Star Trevante Rhodes Recalls That Crazy Oscar Win: "Am I Being Punk'd?"". Complex. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  30. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (February 12, 2015). "Broad Green Confirms Terrence Malick Deal Starting With 'Knight Of Cups' – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  31. ^ A. Lincoln, Ross (January 5, 2017). "Terrence Malick's 'Song To Song' To Open SXSW 2017". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  32. ^ Nordine, Michael (January 3, 2017). "'Song to Song' First Look: Terrence Malick's Austin-Set Romantic Drama Lands New Title and Official Premise (Exclusive)". IndieWire. Retrieved January 3, 2017.
  33. ^ "Song to Song". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  34. ^ "Terence Malick's Song to Song feels like when you want to cry but can't: ★★★★★ review". The Independent. March 11, 2017. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  35. ^ McGovern, Joe (March 11, 2017). "Song to Song: EW review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  36. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller (March 17, 2017). "Song to Song Movie Review & Film Summary (2017)". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved March 17, 2017.

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