January tends to be that depressing movie lull between the December Oscar-bait hysteria and summer’s action extravaganza. But this year feels a little different, there’s actually a completely must-see movie in theaters and it’s opening today. That movie is Song One and it stars Anne Hathaway, Mary Steenburgen, Johnny Flynn, and Ben Rosenfield. Anne plays Franny, an anthropology student pursuing a doctorate who is estranged from her family until her brother (played by Rosenfield) is in a terrible accident that brings her back home, where she unexpectedly develops a relationship with his favorite musician (played by Flynn). It’s a beautiful romantic drama and here are a few reasons why you’re going to fall head over heels in love with this movie. I sure did.
Kate is both the writer and director of Song One AND this is also her first feature film (it also debuted at the 2014 Sundance Festival). Since then it has been steadily gaining attention and fans from subsequent festivals all over the country. Not bad for a first timer! Before Song One, she directed several short films and videos including one called “Match” which screened at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art as part of their New Directors/New Films series. At a time when there should be WAY more female directors than ever (hello, it’s 2015) it is so heartening to see a talented woman write a great script and get that great script turned into a great movie. Fun KBF fact? Kate was an assistant to the director on The Devil Wears Prada..
This award winning actress has made me hate her as the opposing attorney against Denzel Washington in Philadelphia, made me want to hug her in Elf, and cry-laugh on 30 Rock. And this year she’s even Pornstache’s mother on OITNB! She’s phenomenally talented and there’s just not enough time in the day to list all her credits. In Song One she plays Franny’s sometimes “difficult” mother and totally nails that mother-daughter push-and-pull dynamic.
The movie’s musical locations
The character of Franny makes her way around New York, primarily parts of Brooklyn, going to music venues that locals will totally recognize. Places like The Knitting Factory, The Bowery Ballroom, and Pete’s Candy Store. Those hotspots give the movie that distinct New York indie-music-scene-feel that is so unique to the city. Watching Johnny Flynn sing — and it’s really him singing, he’s the frontman for the band Sussex Wit — feels like you’re front row at a live concert. A really, really amazing one.
Speaking of Music . . .
The soundtrack is killer. It’s soulful, meaningful, and just so incredible. It’s available on iTunes and the songs are written by Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice. Jenny Lewis was the primary vocalist of the now-defunct ’90s indie rock band Rilo Kiley. She then released quite a few successful solo albums and now performs with her boyfriend Johnathan Rice under the name Jenny and Johnny. This is one of those movies where the music REALLY stays with you, you’ll be listening over and over on your daily commute. Trust me. Plus before you know it, you’ll be adding a Jenny and Johnny station to your Pandora. Fun fact? Jenny Lewis also contributed a collaborative exclusive track to Girls called “Completely Not Me” which was on the season 3 premiere.
Word on the street is that musician Cass Dillon was originally meant to have a bigger part in Song One but his “blink and you might miss him” cameo tells a different story. Why does it matter if Dillon was cut? Oh no big deal he’s just a Billy Joel protégé. In 2007, Billy Joel wrote the single “Christmas in Fallujah,” recorded it with Cass and a few weeks later introduced Cass onstage for a live performance of the song. Besides his role in Song One, Cass currently tours all over the country and his indie pop/rock music can be found on iTunes. (And he’s very easy on the eyes). So see! Even the small roles in this movie are filled with authentic musical excellence.
This flick really examines two very human and critical types of love: familial love and romantic love. Some of the best relationship advice I ever got was that you need to feel whole all by yourself before you can successfully be half of a couple, true dat. This movie totally examines that idea. But it also deep dives into the idea that it’s the people who really truly love you that remind you of who you are and who you want to be.
And then, there’s Anne. Not only is she the film’s lead actress, she’s also a producer. What can’t Anne do? Anne faced some pretty heavy backlash after her Oscar win, but she’s now turning that around with an entirely charming press tour for Song One. She also dives fully head first into this movie, with amazing results. How can you not appreciate that attitude toward art and creativity?
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