A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Infrequent use of words including "f--k," "s--t," and "damn."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.