Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

CNS photo/City on a Hill/Samuel Goldwyn
Ali Faulkner and Alan Powell star in a scene from the movie "The Song." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

New York

‘The Song’ depicts Christian view on love, marriage

By JOSEPH MCALEER, Catholic News Service | Published October 2, 2014

NEW YORK (CNS)—Taking its inspiration from the Old Testament’s Song of Songs, “The Song” (City on a Hill/Samuel Goldwyn) offers a modern-day parable on love, marriage, and remaining open and faithful to God’s plan.

Writer/director Richard Ramsey cleverly weaves passages from the scriptural canticle (attributed to Solomon) to illustrate love’s eddies and currents, from courtship to marriage, children, and building a life together. The result is a fresh, honest, and very Christian take on timeless issues.

Jed King (Alan Powell of the Christian rock band Anthem Lights) is a singer-songwriter looking for his big break. He’s also trying to escape the long shadow of his famous musician father, David King (Aaron Benward).

We learn in flashback that David was a legend on stage, but a train wreck off. He had an affair with a married band member; a child was conceived, but aborted, with David’s approval. When his lover’s husband committed suicide, David married her, and eventually reformed his life, trying to set a better example for their son, Jed.

It’s not surprising that the sins of the father will one day be visited upon the son. But first, things look up for Jed. Performing at a harvest festival, he meets Rose (Ali Faulkner), and it is love at first sight.

“You have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes,” he croons.

After a sweet courtship, they marry, and have a son. Jeb, still madly in love, writes a song for Rose—called, simply, “The Song”—and to his surprise it becomes a breakout hit. Seemingly overnight, Jeb is a big star, and hits the road for a worldwide concert tour.

The years pass, and the pressures of fame and frequent separations put a strain on the marriage. Rose remains faithful, keeping the home fires burning. Jeb is inspired, seeing himself as an evangelizer and healer.

“People come to hear my songs. They are looking for meaning, hope, God,” he tells Rose.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as high-minded. Temptation arrives in raven-haired Shelby (Caitlin Nicol-Thomas), Jeb’s new opening act. Shelby spells trouble, mocking Jeb’s “religious” nature—she prefers to call herself “spiritual”—and encouraging him to get a tattoo (never a good sign).

Needless to say, it’s all downhill from here. Confused and lonely, Jed succumbs, eerily reminiscent of his father’s downward spiral.

Granted, the resolution of “The Song” is predictable, but it is no less refreshing for that. Hollywood can take a lesson from an entertaining film which is openly—and happily—Christian in its outlook, and eager to remind viewers about forgiveness and redemption, as well as the sacredness of married love.

The film contains adulterous situations, suicide, and drug use. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

“The Boxtrolls” (Focus)

Alan Snow’s 2005 children’s novel “Here Be Monsters!” becomes a charmingly bizarre fable about rich and poor and things that go bump in the night in this 3-D animated adaptation, directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi. A quaint village, obsessed by cheese and class, is terrorized by “monsters” that live beneath the streets. The mayor (voice of Jared Harris) accepts an offer from a wicked exterminator (voice of Ben Kingsley) to eliminate the beings. The mayor’s daughter (voice of Elle Fanning) discovers they are actually sweet and benevolent creatures who value family, honesty and loyalty. She joins forces with a boy (voice of Isaac Hempstead Wright), raised underground by the creatures, to expose the truth. The film’s overall tone is dark and scary, which may be unsuitable for younger viewers. Scary moments, brief rear “nudity,” and some bathroom humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

“The Maze Runner” (Fox)

Cross “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” and you’ll have this latest angst-ridden drama about teenagers fighting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, based on the 2009 novel by James Dashner and directed by Wes Ball. The inhabitants of a walled-in expanse of grass and trees are all teenage boys, wiped of their memories. They must work together and build a community from scratch (shades of William Golding’s 1954 novel “Lord of the Flies”), all the while looking for a means to escape through an ever-changing labyrinth beyond the walls. A new recruit (Dylan O’Brien) threatens to upset the fragile world order built by the boys’ leader (Will Poulter). He is inspired by the arrival of the first-ever girl (Kaya Scodelario) to wage a new assault and gain freedom. Occasional intense violence, including gory images, and some crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

“This Is Where I Leave You” (Warner Bros.)

Dramatic comedy, adapted by Jonathan Tropper from his own novel, tries unsuccessfully to wring laughs and sentiment from one suburban family’s dysfunction. Despondent over the break-up of his marriage and the loss of his job, Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) returns home for his father’s funeral and, at the insistence of his outspoken mother (Jane Fonda), sits Shiva—a weeklong Jewish custom of mourning—with his stolid older brother (Corey Stoll), sarcastic sister (Tina Fey) and spoiled younger brother (Adam Driver). Director Shawn Levy gathers an appealing ensemble to play unlikable characters engaged in tawdry, juvenile behavior many viewers will find discomfiting. Although a certain degree of regression is to be expected in such circumstances, actions meant to be outrageous and irreverent are predictable and insufficiently entertaining. Frequent rough, crude and crass language, much profanity and sexual banter, a number of sexual encounters—one featuring rear male nudity and most involving marital infidelity, drug use, an approvingly depicted same-sex relationship, a glib attitude toward religious faith. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.