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"Song One": Brother in a Coma? Date a Band Guy! 

Wednesday, Jan 21 2015
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Hey, gently broody troubadour, my comatose brother was your biggest fan — wanna make out? For better or worse, being Anne Hathaway means getting away with movie setups like this. Song One finds Hathaway doing anthropology Ph.D. fieldwork in Morocco, then being summoned back to New York by news of a car accident involving the brother (Ben Rosenfield) with whom she fell out when he bailed on college to try music. After welling up at his hospital bedside for a while, rummaging through bro's journal leads her to the Dobro-wielding songsmith who first inspired him, a sort of Nick Drake by way of Bon Iver by way of, well, Johnny Flynn, who plays the part. Sweet downbeat indie folk ensues (mostly written by Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice), which you'd better like if you want to get through this. Here making her feature debut, writer-director Kate Barker-Froyland has a talent for scoring talent, and particularly the right people for what this movie is. (Mary Steenburgen plays the Hathaway character's semi-estranged mom.) Song One seems unabashedly fond of romantic rooftop wee-hours hangouts in front of Manhattan skyline bokeh backdrops. It's all tenderness and no cynicism in this little world, a safe place for Hathaway's doe-eyed emotionalism. But Barker-Froyland also seems alert to why such a place, even a cursory fictional one, might be important to some people, and to the challenge of channeling intense yet delicate feelings into creative work.

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Jonathan Kiefer

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SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

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