Song to Song

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

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Terrence Malic is the thinking man’s (or woman’s) director. He’s given us such evocative films as “Days of Heaven,” “The Thin Red Line,” and “The Tree of Life.” Sometimes his films can be a bit puzzling. Most times hauntingly beautiful.

After all, he has a summa cum laude degree in philosophy from Harvard. (And you thought there was no real-life career path for a philosophy major.) He was also a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, but did not complete his thesis on Heidegger due to a philosophical disagreement with his professor. After teaching philosophy at M.I.T. he dropped out of academia to attend the America Film Institute Conservatory, earning a Masters of Fine Arts in filmmaking. His first feature film was “Badlands.”

In his latest film — “Song to Song” — we have two intersecting love triangles set against the Austin, Texas, music scene. Think of it as “Nashville Lite.”

The mix-‘em-and-‘match-‘em lovers are dreamboat Ryan Gosling (fresh off his “La La Land” success), Rooney Mara (“Carol,” “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”), Michael Fassbender (“Steve Jobs,” “The Light Between the Oceans”), and Natalie Portman (“Black Swan,” “Jackie”).

“Song to Song” is now making its music at Tropic Cinema.

There’s more of a narrative story for “Song to Song” than some Malick films. Gosling and Rooney are two aspiring musicians who have an on-and-off love affair. Fassbender is the oily, always smiling record producer in the mix. And Portman is the waitress the egocentric producer marries, only to ruin her life.

In short, Malick’s new film is about the free-fall of love. In the end it all comes crashing down.

More interesting were the glimpses of the Austin music scene. Malick knows his subject. Before Harvard, he attended school in Austin, Texas.

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