a song worth seeing
As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently asked to review and blog about a movie that will be coming out September 26th called The Song. This whole “reviewing things” is a niche I accidentally stumbled into after getting to guest blog with Jen Hatmaker and review her re-release of Interrupted in a little piece known as “That Time I Was Accidentally Creepy”.
But back to the movie… I was pretty excited about the whole thing. I mean, getting to screen a movie before it comes out is kinda cool. Plus I super love movies and I super-duper love music, so getting to review a movie about music is like a dream come true.
I was a little nervous though, because I have been so disappointed with various Christian films in the past. While there are some truly fabulous ones out there, there are also several that I felt either compromised the Biblical message in their attempt to sell more tickets, or simply lacked the budget/cast/writing/cinematography that might allow them to more aptly compete with mainstream movies. I expressed these concerns to the media group that invited me to review The Song and told them that if I accepted this project, I would want to be very honest about my thoughts, even (and especially) if I felt like the movie had missed the mark.
As it turns out, I needn’t have worried.
While The Song isn’t necessarily going to be the very best movie you have ever seen in your life, it will invariably be one of the better ones you have seen lately. For one, the story was well-crafted and captivating, immediately drawing you into the characters’ lives, dreams, and struggles. For two, the music was pretty decent throughout, which is always a plus for us music junkies. 🙂
The movie was also well-cast, lending much needed credibility to the characters. This is often an area
where Christian films have historically fallen short, so kudos to the casting director on this one. Alan Powell (lead singer of Anthem Lights) plays the main character, and the 2 supporting female characters are Ali Faulkner from one of the Twilight movies, & Caitlin Nicol-Thomas from a little show you may have heard of called Nashville. Powell is powerful in his role as aspiring musician Jed King, a man who finds himself torn between the expectations and responsibilities at home, and the more tawdry culture of life as a musician on the road. Faulker is remarkable as the charmingly sweet and naïve Kentucky girl, Rose Jordan, exemplifying innocence, class, and a commitment to her faith (it is so refreshing to see modesty & chastity depicted positively.) And Caitlin Nicol- Thomas is brilliant
in her role as Shelby Bale, an accomplished musician and Jed’s temptress. All 3 of them did an excellent job portraying the true depth & angst of their characters and are remarkably successful in allowing the viewer to experience the story from each of their perspectives.
And much like the trailer promised, the film definitely had a cool Nashville-meets-the Bible-meets-Friday Night Lights vibe, with a dash of a younger Walk the Line, which is another one of my favorite music-ish movies. But the main reason I liked this movie is because it was surprisingly HONEST. And if I am being candid, I anticipated a lot of teeny-bopper fluff and cheese, and I wondered exactly how deep a faith-based film would go in telling the story of a musician’s life as he struggles with the temptations that often come with the lifestyle. Plus, I knew that the movie was inspired by the life and writings of Solomon, so I went into it envisioning a lot of the romance found in Song of Songs, which is known for being the steamy & passionate country music video-y book of the Bible. And while the plot was certainly centered around a spectacular love story (with only a moderate amount of cheesiness,) it was unexpectedly willing to tackle the darker and heavier material found in the book of Ecclesiastes and some of the Proverbs penned by Solomon. In those writings, Solomon agonizes and laments over the futility of pleasure and fame when achieved outside of the will of God, and struggles with the purpose of life and suffering. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the issue of sexual tension within marriage be addressed, which has been something that The Church as a whole has always preferred to tip-toe around. I expected them to gloss over those tougher aspects of life in a movie like this, but they admirably (yet tastefully) dove right in.
So it turned out to be a little grittier than I thought it would be, which is precisely what I liked about it and what I believe will give it the necessary credibility and relevancy with viewers. But you will also be glad to know that the language was not vulgar and it wasn’t overly sexual or graphic where you should feel uncomfortable taking your tweens to see it. And while music was the main backdrop of the story, scripture was used often as a narrative tool as well. Verses like Proverbs 16:9 were featured, which speaks to God’s will for our lives in saying, “In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” And one of my personal favorites, Proverbs 28:13, reminds us of the promise of forgiveness and redemption with “…but the one who confesses and announces sin finds mercy.” Solomon’s Ecclesiastes 3 writings, where he observes that “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” is the overriding theme used to tie the plot together and is part of the musical landscape as well.
Overall, I felt that the movie offered an excellent cross-section view of the struggle to uphold godly values in a world and culture that rewards the opposite.
But what I think The Song did best was create a culturally attractive film that people will actually want to see, and then put before them a message that they won’t see elsewhere in entertainment: God has a plan and will for our lives. And whatever we may strive for – and even attain – outside of His will (whether it be money and power, fame and fortune, or lust and leisure) will only bring heartache and sadness to everyone around us. I also thought the film also did an excellent job communicating the value of honesty and boundaries within marriage, as well as reinforcing the most important lesson in the universe; that God is willing to forgive and redeem our mistakes.
All in all, I think The Song is definitely worth the price of admission and is an excellent step in creating entertainment that upholds morality in modern culture. It is sweet yet honest movie that will likely open the door for some good conversations with teens/young adults, and shed light into the hardest, darkest corners of marriage. My hope is that it will succeed at its intent to positively impact many families and relationships and that we will see more films like this in the future.
The Song comes out soon – September 26th to be exact!!! To find out more about this movie, where it is playing, and how to get tickets, click on any of the links in this post. If you want to help get the word out, please forward/link this post via email & social media. This is definitely a song worth seeing!