Song to Song

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Song to Song Movie Poster Image
Beautiful and poetic, but also challenging and mature.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 129 minutes

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Like many of Malick's movies, this is more of an existential, artistic experience than it is a story. Daring, curious viewers may wish to discuss things like human nature and the differences and similarities between our corporeal/physical selves, as well as our thoughts, ideas, and emotions.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The people here are more existential representations than they are characters with an arc; they're all lost and longing and flawed. None of them really acts in any way that's worth emulating, and very few lessons are learned.


Violent mosh pit at concert. A pierced man demonstrates that he can push scissors through his nose. A speaker is destroyed with a chainsaw.


Topless and fully naked women (almost but not entirely full-frontal); simulated sex. Lots of kissing (both same-sex and opposite-sex), flirting. Main characters have multiple partners. Tattoo of a penis. A woman talks about how she likes rough, violent sex. A sex worker is hired to perform in a threesome and talks about how she handles her job. Another threesome is shown. Inflatable sex doll shown. Nudes in painting.


"F--k" and "f--kin'" are used a few times in one scene. Swearing also includes one use each of "s--t" and "ass."


Coca-Cola logo seen, and Coke is mentioned ("you owe me a Coke").

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A woman takes what appears to be a psychedelic mushroom. Casual, social drinking and smoking. Characters are playfully drunk in at least one scene. A woman chugs from a bottle of whisky at a concert. Briefly, a drug dealer offers a bag of mushrooms. A man asks whether two women "like to get high."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Song to Song is a drama from acclaimed filmmaker Terrence Malick. His films are generally more poetic and existential than they are traditional stories, so some viewers may well lose patience. It's also quite mature, with particularly strong sexual content -- including nudity (breasts, most of a woman's body), simulated sex, a threesome, flirting and kissing (same-sex and opposite-sex), and more. Characters frequently drink and smoke in a social context and are playfully drunk in one sequence. A woman takes a psychedelic mushroom, and the mushroom dealer is briefly shown. There's minor violence at a rock concert (in the mosh pit), plus other slightly upsetting images. One scene with strong language includes a few uses of "f--k." Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender, and other well-known actors co-star.

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byleahm02 May 4, 2017

0 stars

This is the worst movie I have ever seen. It seems like its trying to hard to be artsy and new, but the way its filmed is just annoying. Very negative feeling t... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SONG TO SONG, struggling musician BV (Ryan Gosling) tries to find success in the Austin music scene. He meets mogul Cook (Michael Fassbender), who has another would-be songstress, Faye (Rooney Mara), already in his clutches. Faye falls for BV, while Cook eventually becomes interested in an attractive waitress, Rhonda (Natalie Portman), and sweeps her away into a world of glamor and music. But BV gets jealous and breaks up with Faye; both drift into the arms of other lovers, while their music careers sputter. Can they ever find happiness again?

Is it any good?

Terrence Malick fans will be pleased, and detractors will be annoyed; this drama is filled with Malick's usual trademarks: beautiful wanderings, poetic thoughts, an existential portrait of longing. Song to Song is more an experimental movie than a plot-driven one, and -- like other Malick movies (especially The New World, The Tree of Life, and To the Wonder) -- the images capture a primal way of being. Humans interact with their surroundings, touching things, seeing things. Gosling seems particularly comfortable with this premise and his role; he's more playful than many other recent Malick leading men. And the cinematography by the great Emmanuel Lubezki beautifully captures natural light and gorgeous shapes and textures.

The soundtrack, meanwhile, is a tapestry of expressed thoughts and ideas, sometimes drifting away, sometimes alighting on something meaningful. So it's a clash of being and thinking, as well as a beautiful dance between them. But most modern viewers aren't trained to watch things like this; it's like a European art house movie from another era, comparable to late Antonioni, Welles, or Bresson but perhaps baffling and boring to newcomers. Malick is a giant who will one day find his place, but for now, only the initiated -- or the sublimely curious -- need apply.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Song to Song depicts sex. Do the sex scenes depict casual sex or loving sex? How are they different? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • What role do drinking, drugs, and smoking play in this world? Are these things glamorized? Are there consequences? Why is that important?

  • What do the characters learn here? Do they have a "character arc"? Is it OK if they don't?

  • What does "existential" mean? How does an existential movie compare to one with a concrete beginning, middle, and end?

  • How does Song to Song compare to Terrence Malick's other movies? What do you think makes people hold his work in such esteem?

Movie details

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