“The Song” is a new Christian film inspired by “The Songs of Songs” (aka “The Song of Solomon”) in the Bible. It is one of those distinctly southern/country culture films, with the two main characters being Christians themselves.
It’s a story of adultery. A story of career vs. vocation, and spouses who are physically separated growing apart. It reminds me of the Christian film “October Baby,” in that the first half is poor quality and the second half gets real.
It’s a story of love, marriage and the meaning of life.
The first half is barely one-dimensional. We don’t get to know the man (Jed--Alan Powell) and woman (Rose--Ali Faulkner) who get married and whom we are supposed to care about for the rest of the film. But we do get to know them later through their sins, in a sense. However, there is nothing distinctive about this man and this woman. Nothing unique, original. No defects, dreams, quirks, secrets, experiences, events, histories or desires that are not totally generalized as Everyman and Everywoman. The plot has a few surprises, but there remains very little subtext throughout.
The film is interspersed with very effective voiceover of actual passages (recited by the husband) from the Song of Songs interwoven with Ecclesiastes. They are recited with aplomb in a semi-contemplative, poetic way.
This is a man’s film, a man’s perspective, and not only because the main character is male. There are definite shadows of “women are either idealized virgins-brides-wives-mothers or pure temptresses.” No nuance, nothing in between. The writer-director, Richard Ramsey, did not seem to be able to imagine a woman’s inner life too deeply. The two women actresses do fabulously with what he gave them (and Alan Powell is an accomplished actor/musician as well). But the film does illustrate for men WHAT MEN REALLY WANT. I’m sure this film could touch the hearts of many guys.
The film is aptly named, because there is a lot of music throughout. Mumford & Sons style tunes. Whole songs and snatches of songs. When one song ends, another one begins almost immediately. There seems to be more lyrics than dialogue. But, of course, that is also a way to move the story forward and convey sentiment. Since Jed is a performer and lives in a big way through his music, spending much of his time on stage, we are joining him in his element.
The fighting seems to be more real than the loving between Jed and Rose. Perhaps because the romantic scenes were so saccharine while the clashes were so volatile and even mean (irresistible for actors)! And Jed had some “excellent” excuses for his behavior. Rose also had some great reasonings and justifications on her side. The marital difficulties felt so authentic—too bad the chemistry wasn’t also as palpable.
Am I being too critical of this film? I think not. Gotta call ‘em like I see ‘em. Would I recommend a look-see? Yes. I think “The Song” challenges us to fill in our own blanks: What is the authority of Scripture in our lives? What are our ambitions? What are our duties to God and the ones we love? Where will we truly find fulfillment?
--We were taught in film school that you need to make characters distinct. The more particular you make a character, the more universal they become. There is something in everyone’s specific experiences that others can relate to even if it’s not the exact same circumstances. By trying to create a big, general archetype instead of a real, individual human being, nobody can relate.
--“The temptress” is even dressed like Delilah during one of her seduction sessions. I almost expected an asp to wheedle its way into the frame. The temptress seemed more down-to-earth than the doe-eyed wife who never quite advances from being Daddy’s little girl. In fact, Daddy lives with them, and when Jed is unfaithful to Rose, he has nightmares about Daddy coming after him. It’s like Rose is not fully grown. She is bypassed by the men. She is daughter-turned-conservatorship-wife and Jed is answerable man-to-man to his father-in-law, not his wife. At least at first.
--The camera work is rather unimaginative OR it could simply be budget constraints.
--I think there were some plot-point scenes cut out because I could detect their fragments?
--Um, do they not have laws about roughing up women in public in Kentucky? (Jed does it twice.)
--We didn’t need to see Jed’s Dad at the beginning. It was very unclear that we were in the past and who all the characters were. It seems flashbacks might have worked better, or other devices to show Jed’s musical superstar Dad overshadowing Jed.