Song One

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Song One Movie Poster Image
Angsty musical romance has great songs, uneven plot.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 86 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Positive messages about the healing power of forgiveness, the way musical expression can transform a person, and unbreakable sibling bonds. Also explores the worthiness of dedicating yourself to a career in music and the arts instead of a more traditional path.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Despite her months of silence, Franny is a devoted sister who commits herself to helping Henry. Franny and Henry's mother is scattered but loves her children. James goes above and beyond what most artists would have done with an ill fan. Franny inspires James to write songs again.


Henry's comatose body is in nearly all of the hospital-based scenes. It's not violent, but it's sad and possibly disturbing, especially when Franny and her mom cry and get upset a couple of times.


Mostly longing, meaningful looks, but then Franny and James eventually make love in a longish scene that includes undressing, views of bare backs and legs, and some moaning.


Infrequent use of words including "f--k," "s--t," and "damn."


Mostly electronics: Apple, iPhone, MacBook, Bose headphones. Also YouTube, Minute Maid, M&Ms.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Franny and Henry's mother smokes a lot of cigarettes and makes a joke about enjoying their scent as a reminder of her time in Paris in the 1970s. Franny, her mom, and James drink wine at home and, in the case of Franny and James, in clubs.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySookursa September 17, 2015

So called professional critics don't have a clue...

This movie was very touching. As a new director I feel she did very well. The movie got to me bcuz it touches on the human nature of how we fight and sometimes... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byILoveballoo August 28, 2015
Kid, 8 years old May 14, 2015

Pretty good drama is fun, and has great songs but is to mature for any kids of all age.

My rating R: for mature thematic material, nudity, language, racy content, including violent content.

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.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music and movies

Themes & Topics

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