Kate Barker-Froyland’s directorial debut is a contemplative, heart-on-its-sleeve affair, marking a change of pace for Anne Hathaway after Les Misérables and Interstellar. Though the film is filled with music, Hathaway’s Franny is more of a listener than a musician. After her brother, Henry, a subway busker, ends up in a coma, she returns to Brooklyn from Morocco, where she’s been working on her doctorate in anthropology.
In going through his belongings, she notices the name of British troubadour James Forester (Johnny Flynn, a Michael Pitt look-alike with Miles Teller scars), so she introduces herself after a show. He turns up at Henry’s hospital room afterward, though it’s hard to tell if he’s more interested in the unconscious young man or his vulnerable sister.
When she isn't by Henry's bedside, Franny hangs out with her mother (Mary Steenburgen) and James, who plans to leave for England in a few days. One of these story lines will find resolution, and the other will not.
Produced by Jonathan Demme, who directed Hathaway to an Oscar nomination in Rachel Getting Married, Song One is a small film that feels even less consequential than intended (Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice provided the folk-oriented songs). Hathaway emotes prettily, but this slight picture evaporates on contact.