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Song One: Love or Music?

This inspirational film pulls the weight of Oscar winner Anne Hathaway to deliver what might actually be just a romance flick

What do you get when you put together a young musician, a near-fatal car wreck, and Oscar winner Anne Hathaway?

Oscar winner Anne Hathaway stars as anthropologist Franny, who is pulled back to New York by her young brother’s near-fatal accident
Oscar winner Anne Hathaway stars as anthropologist Franny, who is pulled back to New York by her young brother’s near-fatal accident

If you guessed “an inspirational movie”, you’re only half right. At first glance, Song One has all the elements of a motivational film. It follows estranged anthropologist Franny (Hathaway), who returns to her family in New York when her young brother Henry (Ben Rosenfield) is rendered comatose in an accident.

In hopes of reviving Henry and his musician dream, Franny seeks out significant people in his career, and learns about the magic of music and human connection.

Sounds inspiring? The description on the International Movie Database implies otherwise. It says about Song One: “A young woman strikes up a relationship with her ailing brother’s favourite musician.”

So, which is it really?

A Story of Love

Director Kate Barker-Froyland believes that Song One is first and foremost about the love of music. She said: “Song One tells a story about how music connects and transforms people.”

A famous but private musical idol, James Forester (Johnny Flynn) develops a romantic bond with Franny amidst trying times

In the movie, Franny discovers the struggles that musicians go through to realise their dream, while finding love through this journey.

But it also has the tear-jerker tropes of a romantic flick. While her brother is laying in hospital, Franny develops a strong romantic connection with Henry’s musical idol, James Forester (Johnny Flynn). From then, the story seems to veer away from Henry and music and towards romance.

A Movie About Music


But perhaps we should give Song One concessions for its genuine sentiment towards the power of music – it might even succeed in overshadowing the sappy love story between Franny and James.

Barker-Froyland explained that every song in the movie was “chosen carefully to fit each scene”, and that the music came way before the script.

She said: “As I rewrote the script and developed the character for (Hathaway), we would find music that resonated and represented the world in the script… (We) would send and play each other songs throughout the process.”

And pulling on the weight of Hathaway’s talent – as seen in her outstanding performances for Les Misérables (2012) and Interstellar (2014) – Song One might just end on a sweet, high note after all.

By Pamela Chow

Song One [NC16]

Director: Kate Barker-Froyland
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen, Ben Rosenfield
Genre: Drama, Romance
Run length: 88 min
Release: Mar 5