“As I walk along, I wonder
A-what went wrong with our love
A love that was so strong”
There’s an ebb and flow to life and love. There are the hedonistic, weightless highs, the moments when you dance like there’s nobody watching and playfully chase each other around your apartment. There are the uncertain lows, the moments when you question what it is you’ve gotten yourself into and whether or not you can figure it out. Song to Song is a beautifully exhausting attempt to wade through that thicket, an attempt because that’s what Malick has made a career out of: carving out a spiritual and creative journey in which solutions come secondary to the transcendent highs achieved in the process. His newest project does reach some of those highs, but it definitely loses its way the longer it runs. Though the introduction of new characters and relationships stays true to the transient nature of life, it doesn’t quite anchor a story that’s more plot and character based than one might expect. Malick can be tedious in a good way, but the opposite is true as well.
But what a fascinating snapshot we get of the core group of characters (Fassbender is a gorgeous riot and Mara is the heart and soul). Lubezki’s camera sees them illuminated in natural light, their most intimate moments captured up close and their dancing, writhing bodies framed against the backdrop of Austin, Texas. On the surface, they’re all simply pretty people lounging around in pretty locations and caressing each other periodically, but their emotional highs and lows speak to certain universal experiences. The man and his father. The aging legend. The aging youth. The loved and the lover. The unloved.
“And as I still walk on
I think of the things we’ve done
Together, while our hearts were young”
A song can be a uniting force or a tool of memory or an expression of the human condition. It can transport us into the past or the future, and it can help us live in the present. And as time progresses, the songs–the experiences–accumulate, and all we can do is live in between, within, and for each one.
*There’s a scene in which Del Shannon’s “Runaway”–the song the lyrics above are from–plays while the characters dance in the night sky. It’s breathtaking, and one of the best scenes of the year thus far.