Song to Song – Universal Needs

Song to Song – Universal Needs

Song to Song – Universal Needs

I need to rewatch Song to Song.

That thought filled my head as the film concluded. Song to Song was beautiful, immersive, intimate, moving, and yes, a little weird, in ways that few films are. Those facts alone are not enough to compel a rewatch. This one is: Song to Song contained themes that provided me that feeling that fuller absorption would teach something important about life.

So I rewatched and yup, that feeling was accurate. 

Because I now better understand the internal battle between freedom and universal needs. That in a quest to be free, people wrongly reject needs everyone has, including themselves. This rejection seems to be a triumph – all those other people need stuff that I don’t which makes me stronger – but time will teach you it isn’t. Realizing you were wrong will at once be incredibly painful, and yet also liberating. And the sooner you realize rejection is the opposite of triumph, the sooner you’ll be able to live a full life. This full life necessarily includes a type of connection with other people that’s only possible once you appreciate everyone shares some similar needs.

These “needs” were weaved throughout the journey of the protagonist (and only character with a name) Faye (Rooney Mara). It started with love, continued with goodness, and ended with mercy.

“I didn’t believe in love enough. I was afraid it would burn me up.”

Beliefs come with costs. (Yes, even religious ones that sometimes find defense by incorrectly interpreting Pascal’s wager as a no-lose proposition.)

There is a cost to believing in love. What if I’m wrong? What if I have to deal with a lifetime of pain? What if my love isn’t returned? What happens if I change? These are all reasonable questions. They are also questions that can’t really have an answer in the present moment.

There’s then the opposite question: What happens if I have love and don’t commit to it and miss out on the most important thing in my life? Knowing the answer to this question, which you can only really know if you lost love, is a top draft choice in the draft of “Worst Life Regrets.”

Faye knows this answer. She knows what it’s like to live with the crippling regret that makes you reconsider everything and anything. To have had something beautiful and to have wasted it. To be overwhelmed with thoughts like, “I took sex, a gift, and played with it. I played with the flame of life.”

She was right too. She did have it. Michael Fassbender (remember, the characters don’t have names) appropriately described her love: “They have a beauty in their life that makes me ugly.”

Song to Song depicted this simple, everyday joy of love rather extraordinarily. It may have been close camera shots or exquisite acting, but whatever the case, I cannot remember a more realistic depiction of love’s upside.

“I never knew I had a soul. The very word embarrassed me. I’ve always been afraid to be myself. I thought there was no one there.”

So it wasn’t like Faye had no idea she might be giving up important things as she “revolted against goodness.” It’s just that her identity was invested in not needing “what made life sweet” for other people. When you don’t possess the things other people have, the easiest form of self-defense is to claim you are unique and transform potential weakness into condescending nobility.

“Mercy was just a word. I never thought I needed it. Not as much as other people do.”

My favorite line in the entire film. That word “mercy.” Okay, I can admit I need love and goodness, but mercy? No way. Only weak people need that. That’s why this line was such a golden summation of where Faye was and where she is by the end.

“Song to Song” made me THINK.

Fassbender and Ryan Gosling were solidly amusing. Fassbender more in the crazy sense, from his pretending to be a monkey to his crawling out of bed post-sex. Gosling more in the charming sense, from his line to his mother, “You are a stone cold fox,” to the various ways he made Faye laugh. 

There were a few scenes Fassbender and Gosling shared which felt totally unscripted, totally real, and humorous, like when they drank together in Mexico (or wherever that vacation was).

“Song to Song” made me LAUGH.

I was thinking about that mercy line while biking over the Manhattan Bridge and I just started crying. That’s about the highest form of CRY a movie can earn.

I also cried during the film when Holly Hunter mourned her daughter’s death. 

But even if tears never happened, this film still would have garnered a CRY for the sheer emotional weight carried throughout.

“Song to Song” made me CRY.


Adam Schaefer

Adam Schaefer

Adam likes banana flavoring more than bananas. His first R-rated movie was "Beverly Hills Cop 3." He is also a semi-famous somniloquist.
Adam Schaefer

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