‘Song to Song’ Opens SXSW With Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender

Song to Song
Courtesy of SXSW

Terrence Malick typically heads to Europe when he’s ready to unveil his tour-de-force dramas — his recent movies have debuted at film festivals in Venice, Cannes, and Berlin. But on Friday night, the reclusive director stayed close to home in Austin for SXSW’s opening night premiere of his romantic dramedy “Song to Song.”

The movie was shot in Austin, where the city shines as brightly as its cast. Ryan Gosling, who was met with shrieks as he snaked inside the Paramount Theatre, joined Rooney Mara and Michael Fassbender for a brief introduction on stage.

The film follows a music executive (Fassbender) who quarrels with his business partner (Gosling) as they both embark on a series of tortured romantic affairs.

Michael Fassbender arrives at the SXSW premiere of “Song to Song.” Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

“It’s intense,” Fassbender said of working with Malick. “It’s challenging. It’s rewarding. It’s fun. Scary. Essentially, he never stops writing.”

True to industry lore, the actors learned new lines as they were about to shoot their scenes, cut in a stream-of-consciousness style that’s become the trademark to Malick’s work.

“We always wanted to have the experience of working with Terrence Malick,” added Gosling. “Every day is different. Suddenly, Patti Smith is there,” he said of a small part played by the punk-rock icon.

Ryan Gosling suited up for opening night in Austin. Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Despite its title, the movie doesn’t feature much singing. But there are supporting roles for Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett as love interests, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Val Kilmer.

The slow and experimental pace of the indie prompted a smattering of attendees to bail midway through the picture. One of the film’s producers ate potato chips in the lobby. And although the press-averse Malick made the trip to Texas, he wasn’t introduced on stage with his cast. The end credits were met with brief applause.

Janet Pierson, the festival’s head of film, kicked off the screening by noting that 130 features are playing at SXSW.

“Song to Song” opens March 17 from distributor Broad Green Pictures.

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  1. VoiceOfReason says:

    How is this man still allowed to make movies? Literally one of the worst directors in show biz.

  2. Celine says:

    You need to see “To the Wonder” and “Knight of Cups” more than once to get them. But I loved them at once. They demand reflection otherwise they might appear ’empty’ or ‘pointless’, but they are carefully crafted works of art. You need to know about cinema to understand them. It helps to be familiar with the works of Alain Resnais for example. And with philosophy.

    Here are some of my observations, why these 2 films are seriously underrated:

    a) Malick tries to push the boundaries of film language and form by including all the other arts as equally important elements: Dance, Painting, Music, Theatre, Photography, Literature, Poetry.

    b) They try to explore abstract concepts and existentialist themes in a cinematic, non-verbal way by providing experiences where one can explore his/her own thoughts rather than getting ‘a story told’.
    In “To the Wonder” it was about finding, losing and re-gaining love – the love to a human being & the spiritual love to God. “Knight of Cups” is about fate, the burden of freedom & the huge task of finding one’s true life and purpose in a world where there’s so much meaningless distraction and instant gratification.
    It’s a profound critique of American culture today.

    c) They are Christian films. I wouldn’t call them ‘faith-based film’ because they don’t try to preach a certain ideology and nothing else. But the themes and Malick’s POV are Christian. That should be obvious since at least “The Tree of Life”.

    I had my doubts about both films, too, and maybe they would be more effective in a shorter running time – Malick shouldn’t demand too much of audiences. But they are strong experiences and make you feel like nothing else out there. They make you calm, reflective and peaceful. They make you feel and think about your own life. And that’s a rarity in these times of overpowering escapist art.

    I’m sure that all Malick films will stand the test of time, because they help people live their lives.
    That’s what good art should do sometimes.

  3. Bob says:

    ugh, his movies have sucked since Tree of Life. And no I’m not a mouth-breathing Trump asshole. He should make nature docs. He has no respect for dramatic writing.

    • Sal U. Lloyd says:

      I liked him better when he’d spend 10 years between movies. Not that he’s getting old, he’s making more before the window closes in on him. Sad, because he IS a talent.

  4. Charles Ealy says:

    Malick didn’t “make the trip to Texas.” He lives in Austin. He was already here.

  5. Jimmy Green says:

    If this movie is anything like the crap he has directed for the last 6 yrs it won’t last a week in theaters. I walked out of the last three..tedious, boring, incoherent are the kindest words I can use.

    • Celine says:

      Really? But you came back and paid every time to see a new Malick ? Can’t be that bad of an experience ;-)

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