by Sam Robinson
Rated PG-13. Starring Alan Powell, Ali Faulkner. Directed by Richard Ramsey.
There’s been a lot of online discussion recently about the worth of faith-based films. More and more movies seem to be made to target a Christian audience only, and in most cases, these lack the drama and budget of a convincing blockbuster. Only a few months ago I reviewed the preachy Freedom, and we haven’t reviewed more recent flicks Left Behind, The Perfect Wave, and other films including Dolphin Tale 2, which although mainstream have been marketed towards a believing audience.
So when it came to watching faith-based film The Song, I approached with caution. The synopsis informed me that it’s a film ‘inspired by the Song of Solomon’ and the cheesy tagline states ‘Even the “wisest” of men was a fool for love.’ This movie however stands head and shoulders above other faith-based offerings. It’s been crafted with care and delves deeper than a simple tale of moralistic living.
Jed King (Powell) is a singer-songwriter living in the shadow of his deceased father David (yes, his name is David King). He plays a gig at a small-town harvest festival and there meets Rose (Faulkner) and they quickly fall in love and marry. He writes a song for Rose which becomes a hit and in the coming years his popularity soars. As you would expect, world touring and the temptations of booze, drugs and women on the road take their toll on Jed and his family.
The story of The Song is quite captivating, and I think the best part of the film are the performances from Powell and Faulkner. Their marriage, as strained as it becomes, is believable – and the scene in the half-built chapel in the final act of the film is intense. I am thankful that this film has real emotion and doesn’t shy away from or censor real life problems such as adultery, alcoholism, sex as a commodity, and the effects of sin.
‘If you could ask God for anything at all, what would it be?’
‘I’d want to be wise!’
My biggest gripe with The Song is the constant parallels made to Solomon in the Bible. I’m aware that the film is only inspired by Song of Songs, but when made the links are far too obvious and actually do a disservice to the flow of the story. Narration of Bible verses from Ecclesiastes and Proverbs pop up with no references for later reflection. Place names from the Bible and names like ‘David King’ distract.
I honestly believe the performances and story would be strong enough and would still hit home to a believing audience without the spelled-out Solomon inspiration. And it might have meant viewers have that wonderful ‘ah-ha!’ moment when they think more deeply about the film as they leave the cinema and draw the parallels themselves.
The film challenged me most in thinking about what we live for, and what is most important in life. The Song makes much of Solomon’s lament in Ecclesiastes 2:8-11 –
I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
The things of this world are fleeting – money, sex, desire – and can become dangerous idols that ruin ourselves and our relationships. I know this movie was made to help couples to strengthen their marriages (there’s resources available on the film’s website) but I’m not sure if the film gets to the heart of the problem of sin deeply enough to truly change. If you want to really be confronted by the problem of lust, you’re better off listening to Swoope’s Sinema. Nevertheless, The Song is a poetic and artistic tale. I’m giving it three out of five stars.
The Song is screening now in cinemas in the USA.