First time director Kate Barker-Froyland has concocted a cinematic gem in Song One starring Anne Hathaway and Johnny Flynn. Though dragging at moments, the magic of the original music set to the New York City music scene manages to romance the audience into the film and it's characters, Franny and James.
In theaters today, Song One follows Franny (Hathaway) as she moves through the motions of her comatose brother, Henry. They had not spoken for 6 months until she received the call he'd been in an accident. Desperate to reconnect, she listens to Henry's music for the first time and follows his footsteps though New York City, leading her to his favorite musician, James Forester (Flynn). James is living off the success of his first album, but writers block has kept him from putting out anything else to follow it. Franny and James follow the music on a journey to heal their souls and stay close to Henry, finding that finding each other was exactly what they needed.
Anne Hathaway not only stars in the film, but produced it as well alongside her husband, Adam Shulman. It was a brave choice to take on the film of a first time director, but it will prove to be rewarding. The genuine locations of the film, like the famed Bowery Ballroom, create an aura of simplicity and quietness in a city known for it's noise. Froyland wanted more than anything for this film to be about listening and the power of music, something she brilliantly relays through her choice to use songwriters Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice to write the soundtrack and score. They composed a 7 song symphony out of a guitar and the smooth nostalgic vocals of their lead musician Johnny Flynn. The soundtrack itself, could live as it's own entity, separate of the film it stands alone as a romantic folk album in the like of Bon Iver.
Hathaway and Flynn seem to light up the screen with their chemistry, during a scene where they share a duet on a New York rooftop , you feel like time is standing still as they sing sweet nothings. You also want to know where the heck you can get that song now (the soundtrack in now available on iTunes). Johnny Flynn, a classically trained actor and musician, truly shines as James Forester, in fact, you would never know he wasn't. Anne Hathaway gives one of her softest and most subtle performances yet, it's a welcome change for the actress. Mary Steenburgen as Franny's eccentric mother brings color to the film and at times some much needed comedic relief.
All in all, the film deserves a massive BRAVO! It's sweet and moving, and music lovers, especially those from the NYC scene, will eat it up . With so much noise and big bangs in Hollywood nowadays, a quiet film with a heart such as Song One is very needed.