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Song One

Year: 2015
Production Co: Worldview Entertainment
Director: Kate Barker-Froyland
Writer: Kate Barker-Froyland
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Mary Steenburgen, Johnny Flynn

Whether it's comedy or drama, the hipster music scene in New York is an instantly recognisable subculture to audiences of independent cinema, so from virtually the first frame you realise you're in the same familiar surroundings as Mark Ruffalo/Keira Knightley musical redemption love story Begin Again and TV's Girls.

But Song One is an altogether slower burning drama than most – to its own detriment in fact. We meet scruffy busker Henry (Ben Rosenfield) in the subway, then hear a car's brakes screech as he steps in front of it, oblivious thanks to the earbuds in his ears.

Next thing Fran (Anne Hathaway) is getting a desperate call from her mother Karen (Mary Steenburgen) while the former works on her anthropology thesis somewhere in the Middle East. Her brother's been hit by a car and Fran has to come home in case he doesn't come out of his coma.

Fran does her share of crying by his bedside, and the fight they had when they talked last is only hinted at, but with nothing else to do while she bunks in her brother's bedroom, she starts to wonder about the musician he's clearly obsessed with, James (Johnny Flynn).

After listening to James' music and going to see him a few times, Fran and he strike up a friendship that quietly, tenuously takes delicate baby steps towards being something more, all the while with Fran trying to process the possibility that she might lose her brother and her growing feelings for James.

And that's pretty much it. It's only because Fran and James are so nervous every time they're together (for some unexplained reason) that their relationship takes so long to kindle, and by the time it does things come to a natural conclusion with a chance in her brother.

It was undoubtedly the aim of the film to show the heart-fluttery jitters of attraction between Fran and James, but it's frustrating watching two supposed adults stumble over words, stare at the floor and look like the want the earth to swallow them up like a pair of teenagers.

Hathaway is too much of a talent not to fully inhabit the role of Fran and lift it off the page, despite the quietness and dearth of high emotion. Steenburgen is also fun as the ex hippie parent, but Flynn as romantic foil James is completely hatstand, so devoid of personality he almost fades into the hospital wallpaper.

It's not that you'll expect giant robots fighting each other or superheroes knocking over buildings, but a little conflict goes a long way to make an interesting story.

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