Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Song

2014 / 116 minutes
RATING: 9/10

The Song destroys all the expectations we have for Christian films. It has great acting, a great script, an even better soundtrack...and also infidelity, abortion, suicide, drugs, and more infidelity. It's far better than most any Christian film you've seen, but also much grittier.

It is based on, but does not pretend to be, the story of King David and Solomon. The setting is, instead, Nashville, with Jed King an aspiring country singer, who hasn't yet measured up to the status of his superstar father. But he also hasn't fallen into any of his excesses either. 

When he meets Rose, the manager of a winery, he writes a special song for her that turns into his first major hit. From there we see him rise to spectacular heights. Like Solomon before him, he has it all. And like Solomon (and his superstar father) before him, he falls to the temptress, in his case the lead singer of his opening act. 

That doesn't really do it justice, because if you imagine how a story based on the Bible, however loosely, typically turns out, there's just one word for it: lame. That's why it's important to emphasize just how unusual and exceptional The Song is. Two things make it remarkable. The first is the perfect pairing of story, with song, and even with narrated voice overs. All the "Solomonic texts"– Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, and the Song of Solomon – are quoted regularly, and impactfully. Jed is learning some hard lessons through the film, and he shares them, warning us of the ways of the adulterous women, but also the futility of having it all when it is all going to turn  to dust in the end. 

Remarkable too, is the music. It's another fantastic pairing of story and song: the musical performances are worth the price of admission right there!

While praising it as highly as I can, I will add that this was a hard film to watch the first time, since, being familiar with both David and Solomon's story, my wife and I knew that at some point the Jed's happy story was going to take a devastating, self-sabatoging turn. We actually ended up watching it in two nights, the first with all the fun romantic joking and giddiness between him and Rose. We shut it off right before Jed was set to make his stupid devastating decisions (it wasn't hard to tell when that was going to happen). Then the next evening, we could start off with that short bit of ugliness, and then ride out the end of the movie where we got to see his life impacted by undeserved, but gratefully recieved grace. 


Even though we don't really see anything, the mature topic matter means this is not a film for children. Underscoring that point, it begins with a two-minute overview of the lowlights of David King's life. We see Jed's father singing on the Grand ol' Ole Opry, and later catching his bandmate's wife swimming naked in a lake (paralleling David seeing Bathsheba). They try to cover up the pregnancy that follows by getting her husband drunk. While King David kills Uriah, in the film the husband, upon learning of his friend's and wife's betrayal, commits suicide. Thankfullly that is all over and done with in a quick montage in the opening minutes. 


Some films are gritty for the sake of being gritty. This is gritty for the sake of being true. But it is also funny, romantic, rousing, thought-provoking, and toe-taping for the same reason: because that's what life is like too. I feel like I didn't give this film the pitch it deserved, so I'm going to link to a few other reviews so you can get a second and third opinion. 

Variety (a secular publication)

If you want to dig into the film further, here's a list of some of the biblical references throughout the film. You can check out the trailer below, and rent it online at Amazon and other online streaming services.

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