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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Song One is an angsty musical romance in the style of Once. Starring Anne Hathaway and British folk singer Johnny Flynn, the movie should appeal to teens and fans of indie rock, romances, and musicals. There's a central love story that mostly consists of longing looks and brief caresses but does include one sex scene, which isn't gratuitous but does show some bare skin (backs, arms, legs); there's also some moaning. Language is infrequent but includes an emotional "f--k," plus "s--t" and "damn." Scenes of a mother and sister upset and crying over their comatose son/brother could be upsetting. Positive messages include the transcendent power of musical expression, the unconditional bond between brother and sister, and the way a person function as a muse.
- Parents say
- Kids say
When I saw it had Ane Hatheway in it, I was excited to see it, but it was extremely disappointing. It was in fact, one of the worst movies I've ever seen. The ending sucked and frankly made me feel like I wasted my time seeing the rest of it.
What's the story?
SONG ONE opens with 20-ish musician Henry (Ben Rosenfield) busking in a New York City subway station. Moments later, he's hit by a cab. Across the world in Morocco, his older sister, Franny (Anne Hathaway), is doing research for her Ph.D. in anthropology. When her mother (Mary Steenburgen) calls with the awful news -- Henry's been in an accident and is now in a coma -- Franny returns home, distraught that she hadn't spoken to him in six months. She begins to obsessively look through Henry's things and discovers a concert ticket for that very night to see his favorite singer-songwriter, British indie rocker James Forester (Johnny Flynn, of the folk band Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit). After the concert, Franny tells James about her brother -- his No. 1 fan -- being in a coma, and gives him a CD of one of Henry's songs. The next day, James shows up at the hospital to see Henry (and Franny). Over the next few days, Franny and James fall for each other through a shared love of music.
Is it any good?
Director Kate Barker-Froyland's feature debut shows promise and a delicate touch with romance and music-driven stories. By casting Hathaway opposite a real folk singer and partnering with indie-rock couple Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice to write and compose the original songs, Barker-Froyland shows how devoted she is to her concept ... if not her plot, which is the film's weakest link. The music is well matched to the story (mostly emotional and warbling but once electronic and cathartic), especially the wonderful final song ("Silver Song"), and fans of Lewis, Flynn, and folk rockers like Mumford & Sons or Laura Marling will enjoy the soundtrack.
As mentioned, though, the plot is problematic, with the main characters making a few decisions that stretch believability. But if you buy into the longing between James and Franny -- and Franny's desperation to see her brother wake up -- you'll likely find it easy to excuse these missteps. Looking like the lankier, baby-faced brother of Michael Pitt and Garrett Hedlund, Flynn is every bit as sensitive and sweet as you'd imagine a singer-songwriter who finds time to hang out in his comatose fan's hospital room would be. While not a perfect film, Song One is effective as a romance and a showcase for poignant ballads.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Song One explores music and the various ways people experience it. How do you discover new artists? Does the soundtrack make you curious about the real artists featured in the film?
Johnny Flynn is a real-life folk singer turned actor. How do you think the movie would have been different with a more well-known actor?
How does the movie depict relationships? Are they realistic? Relatable? Teens: What do you hope for when it comes to love and romance? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on these topics.
- In theaters: January 23, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: March 24, 2015
- Cast: Anne Hathaway, Mary Steenburgen, Johnny Flynn
- Director: Kate Barker-Froyland
- Studio: Cinedigm
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: a scene of sexuality, and brief language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.