'Song One' is a pure and joyful movie experience

Rating: ★★★★☆

Every once in while it is a gift to find a simple, uncomplicated and unpretentious film that is enjoyable to watch and lets us sit in life of another fully without distraction. This was my reaction to first seeing "Song One."

"Song One" was written and directed by Kate Barker-Froyland and is the story of a small family during a tragic health crisis. When Henry (Ben Rosenfield), a struggling musician, is struck by a car and lingers in a coma, his mother Karen (Mary Steenburgen) calls his sister Franny (Anne Hathaway) to come back home.

Franny had been busy working on her PhD, in Morocco, a long way from her home in New York. Her mother Karen is in obvious distress and needs the support of her daughter while her sons lays in a hospital bed. But it is Franny that feels the most guilt, as the last time she spoke to her brother they had a huge fight and she stopped talking to him.

Franny was very upset that her brother quit college to pursue a career in music, a decision she thought was just downright dumb and stupid. But, as Franny goes through her brother's things, she discovers the wonderful songs he has been writing and the musical life that he treasured. During this exploration, Franny meets the musician that her brother most admired - James Forester (Johnny Flynn). The two become romantically engaged as they wait for Henry to wake up. Or does he?

"Song One" boasts a great collection of songs that help to connect the narrative parts of the film together. It delicately depicts Franny and Karen's struggle to learn acceptance of each other and more importantly, Franny's path to forgiving herself.

"Song One" showcases Hathaway's more nuance capabilities after her over-the-top Oscar-winning portrayal of Fantine in Les Misérables in 2012. Notably the interaction between both Oscar winners, Hathaway and Steenburgen, are just masterful and should be mandatory watching for any budding actor.

This is the first feature film by Kate Barker-Froyland. She met Anne Hathaway while working as to director David Frankel on "The Devil Wears Prada" and obviously Hathaway was taken by Barker-Froyland's impressive first feature film script. This of course helped the young filmmaker get financing as Hathaway also serves as a producer of the film. And I anxiously await the next film by this promising, young filmmaker.

"Song One" is rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, and brief language and has a run-time of 86 minutes.


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