2014, PG-13, 116 min. Directed by Richard Ramsey. Starring Alan Powell, Ali Faulkner, Caitlin Nicol-Thomas, Danny Vinson.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 26, 2014
It turns out that the familiar narrative formula of a musical artist’s rise, fall, and ultimate redemption is well-suited to the architecture of a faith-based movie. Whether it’s award-winners like Ray and Walk the Line or a voyeuristic episode of VH1’s Behind the Music, the formula dovetails nicely with the agendas of faith-based movies that want to exploit the lures of the material world before their protagonists fall from grace, only to be later redeemed.
Writer/director Richard Ramsey’s The Song is a cut above most faith-based movies in that it focuses on telling a good story in addition to spreading the good word. Rounded performances and dynamic concert footage ground the film within the recognizable world instead of the Manichean, good-vs.-evil story structure of most religiously hewed movies.
Alan Powell (of the Christian band Anthem Lights) stars as Jed King, the son of a Nashville legend, who is unable to find his voice as a songwriter until he meets Rose Jordan (Faulkner). The song he writes for her becomes his ticket to stardom, but after a few years of success, their once-blissful marriage grows rocky. Jed’s always on the road, while Rose stays home to look after their son and her ailing father. Temptation comes to Jed in the form of his opening act, a talented and tattooed spitfire named Shelby Bale (Nicol-Thomas). Infidelity is followed by booze, pills, and a public meltdown.
The thing is, the music that Jed, Shelby, and their respective bands make is actually pretty good. The performance footage is polished enough that it looks like it could be plucked from a TV show like Nashville. Voiceover recitations from the Bible’s Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes pop up frequently to remind us that we are but dust in the wind, but they actually waylay the plot and create mild confusion for the viewer. Still, it’s nice to see a faith-based film that seems to value movies in at least equal measure to its message.