As a pastor from time to time I get emails inviting me to some new faith based (or faith near or want a church audience based) movie preview event. Most of the time they are in other cities, but The Song was playing in my town and it was free movie that I could take my wife to see so I jumped at the chance.
The best way to explain the movie would be that it is a cross between Walk the Line (the movie about Johnny Cash) and the Biblical story of Solomon. Yeah, I know, but that is really what it is. The idea is that Song of Solomon is this amazing passionate poem that shows some real feeling and yet the same guy wrote “meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless” and had hundreds of wives. All of that sort of wrapped up into a modern movie.
What I Thought
The movie really fits with the tone of the trailer (which isn’t always true) so you can get an idea of how the movie feels if you understand. There is some really great music in the movie and some just OK songs too. That was probably my biggest negative about the movie. Sometimes the performance songs are just a little too long causing the movie to seem to drag in the middle. I know that is the formula for these biopic type movies, but when you don’t already know the songs it gets easy to let your mind wander.
But that was really my only negative. The movie was really good, not Christian movie good, but really good. The voice over taken from the writings of Solomon is perfect and fits the mood of the movie well. Ali Faulkner who plays Rose Jordan does a great job (especially later in the film when she gets more to work with) and the chemistry between her at Alan Powell, who plays Solomon (or Jedidiah as his name was pronounced by Nathan the prophet), works very well. The other woman is “Shelby Bale” (Caitlin Nicol-Thomas) does a good job with her role, but in many ways she is just moving the story forward. Her motivations are explained towards the end of the film, but ultimately she is simply the siren luring Jed away.
All in all the acting was solid, the music was fun and moving, and the story was a little on the nose, but still very worth watching.
The movie points people to God, but doesn’t actually lay out the plan of salvation. I wouldn’t say that is a negative, just pointing it out. I’m also pretty sure they never go to church (I could be wrong about that) but people to talk as if God is a part of their lives, and of course all of the text of the voice-over is scripture, not to mention the story taken from the life of Solomon.
It is the sort of movie I would want to take non-church people to see, not because it would lay out the whole story of Christianity, but because it should open up some doors for conversation. Not only that, this movie isn’t cheesy. This isn’t a Hallmark movie. It is a moving story about one man’s search for meaning wrapped up in a love story and covered in a folksy soundtrack that is somehow both haunting and uplifting.
Easter Eggs for Bible Nerds
One of the things I love about superhero movies is when they put little things in that only the people who are familiar with the comic would understand. They aren’t important to the plot, they are just a little nod to the dedicated reader. (The same thing was in Fellowship of the Rings when they would from time to time say lines that were chapter titles in the book like A shortcut to mushrooms). The Song adds lots of these touches like the very name of the other woman being Bale which is an allusion to the god Baal that you find in the Old Testament. I don’t want to list all of the ones I found (and the ones I missed that the producer pointed out) because finding them as you watch is half the fun.
I am not a big fan of faith based films used as outreach. I think they are great for church folks, but normally they are either too cheesy or too preachy for me to recommend dragging your “I don’t want to go to church with you” friend to see because in the end they feel sort of tricked into getting preached at.
This movie is nothing like that. It is a solid movie on its own merit even if you didn’t know that it was based on the Bible. It is the perfect movie to use to talk about commitment, love, and most especially finding meaning in life.
So make sure that you go see this movie when it is released, take that couple from work that you have been meaning to ask about spiritual stuff and see what sorts of doors this will open for conversation. I don’t think you will be disappointed.