Terrence Malick’s ‘Song to Song’ Will Kick Off SXSW 2017

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Van Redin / Broad Green Pictures

Austin, Texas native Terrence Malick shot his latest movie in and around the Austin music scene. And earlier this week, news broke that the film, freshly retitled Song to Song, was ready for release and coming to theaters in March. So we probably should have seen this announcement (via The New York Times) coming: Song to Song will open Austin’s South by Southwest Film Festival in March. So you know what this means: A glitzy opening night red carpet, complete with Terrence Malick posing for lots and lots of photos and interviews. Or the exact and total opposite of that.

As usual, Malick has recruited an all-star cast to bring his singular vision of the world to life, including Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, and Michael Fassbender. Here is the plot synopsis, insofar as this movie has a plot. If Malick’s recent output is any indication of this movie’s style and tone the description below may barely factor into the finished film, passing through it like a light breeze through a field of wheat:

In this modern love story set against the Austin, Texas music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye (Mara) and BV (Gosling), and music mogul Cook (Fassbender) and the waitress whom he ensnares (Portman) — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.

Malick is inarguably one of the greatest filmmakers in history, but his recent work has left me pretty cold. (I move to rename Knight of Cups to the much more accurate Snore to Snore.) My main issue with his recent movies is that they don’t have any stories; just beautiful actors wandering through beautiful locations while pontificating on life and death and beauty. If Malick has gotten back to his roots, and given Gosling, Mara, Fassbender, and Portman genuine characters with real problems and conflicts, and he weds that to his glorious visual style, then SXSW 2017 will kick off in truly transcendent fashion.

South by Southwest 2017 runs from March 10 to March 19.

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