Song One (2014)
Written by Kate Barker-Froyland
Directed by Kate Barker-Froyland

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I am a sucker for music movies, and stories about people’s relationship to music, and their relationships set to music. Song One is one of those movies, a story about relationships and music, and the way that music weaves in and out of life and love. I knew I would love about fifteen minutes in, and the rest of the film kept me in its embrace, making me feel like I was part of it. I loved the way the story unfolded, the slice of life feel to it, and the intimacy in cinematography and plot approach. The characters, especially Franny (Anne Hathaway) and James (Johnny Flynn) were so understated. They played each moment with an economy of words, but an abundance of emotion that was wordless and powerful. Music painted the canvas they existed in, too, becoming a through line that the actions and reactions clung to. When the credits began to roll I wanted more, though I understood why it stopped when it did. It felt like a damn good song, over before you want it to be, leaving you wanting to hit replay and listen again.


I fell for James as Franny was falling, slowly at first, and then all of a sudden like a Summer storm. He reminded me of other fictional characters I’ve loved, and I wanted his story to continue, and hers, together, or apart. I felt inspired watching this film in that way that I wanted immediately to start writing something myself – not about them – but fueled by them, and the film itself.


There are shades of both Once and Begin Again, as well as some of Richard Linklater’s films. I know the reviews were shaky, but I never pay much mind to them anyhow. I know that I loved the film, and will watch it again (probably a few “agains” really).

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Song One was written and directed by Kate Barker-Froyland, and released in 2014. The film follows Franny Ellis (Anne Hathaway), an anthropology student who returns to New York City after her estranged brother, Henry (Ben Rosenfield), a musician, entered a coma; to revive Henry and repair their relationship, Franny convinces Henry’s favorite musician, James Forrester (Johnny Flynn), to play at his bedside, as well as goes about gathering sounds and pieces of Henry’s life that she brings to his bedside to hopefully bring hi back to his life.

The film premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 30th Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2014, and opened in the United States on January 23, 2015, to mixed-to-negative critical reviews.


The soundtrack, released by Lakeshore Records on January 13, 2015, contained original scores written by Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice of the indie rock duo Jenny & Johnny.Barker-Froyland met with the duo in Los Angeles and, after she listened to Little Yellow Dress before her plane ride to New York, decided that they would create the songs that Flynn would perform in-character.


Jonathan Rice, Johnny Flynn and Jenny Lewis

Little Yellow Dress :: Johnny Flynn

During production, Song One producer Jonathan Demme instructed Lewis and Rice to record its music as Skip Spence recorded his 1969 psychedelic album Oar. The duo wrote eleven songs for the film, though only seven were used in its composition.


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