Is love ever enough? Can love conquer all? In a world without pain, the answer would be yes, but the essential truth of love often lies in complex, often clashing vistas of emotion. Perhaps the most tragic aspect of loving another is the ugly truth that love is sometimes not enough to change or save anything, even though it is ever-present, bittersweet in its grasp over the lovers. This truth is the crux of Hassan Said’s This Is Your Song, which exposes the rot at the heart of a relationship that is sweet, ugly, tender, and toxic all at once, all of which unravels on a fateful night in the golden city of San Francisco.
In This Is Your Song, Jules (Briana Walsh), a theater actor struggling to make it big, yearns for more. Her passion for her craft is on full display during her performance, as she delivers her lines with electrifying fervor despite the fact that she is paid rather inconsistently for the gigs. Expressing her frustrations while going out with her friend Penny (Joanna Kay), Jules hints at the fact that her husband, James (Jordan Potch), is dismissive of her craft. This underlying sense of frustrated dissatisfaction seeps through conversations that reveal Jules has been unfaithful, and we catch a glimpse of a thwarted flirtation with an older man at the bar.
On the other hand, James, an aspiring beatnik, wants to desperately cling to embodying the soul of a writer, but the harsh reality of capitalism shatters this romantic illusion. One has to earn well enough to survive, to live, and it is not easy to get paid consistently for art in this economy, especially when crippling self-doubt is a dear friend to every person who creates it. While both Jules and James are artists at heart, it is clear that they view the world differently now: while Jules is more hopeful about her craft, James is dismissive of theater, calling it “a dying art,” while being understandably jaded about the state of the world. These perspectives clash throughout the night, escalating when the couple celebrates their anniversary in their lovely apartment.
What Said accomplishes in This Is Your Song is nothing short of astounding, as the film captures the agonies and ecstacies of love over the course of a singular night. Disagreements erupt at sudden moments, punctuated by tender affection or passionate lovemaking, followed again by ugly outbursts that underline truths that are too hard to swallow. The way the camera pans and zooms in on faces to convey a state of mind adds to the dizzying quality of the moment, where two people oscillate between extremes in rooms that seem spacious and closing in on them all at once.
Drenched in neon hues, James and Jules hurl obscenities at one another, which is often immediately undercut by tearful confessions of deep insecurities or fervent avowals of love. Both parties have wronged the other and made personal sacrifices for the sake of their bond, and these unhealed wounds have festered over the years, culminating in confessions that are meant to cleave a heart into two. Yes, there is love between them — love that sustained for seven years, bursting forth like an avalanche from time to time — but it is not enough, as the underlying hate of what they’ve done to one another overpowers every sweet and vulnerable sentiment.
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This Is Your Song captures the essence of a relationship on its last legs, broken beyond repair despite being submerged in passion, codependence, and adoration. Encapsulating this volatile sentiment via a continuous 97-minute shot is no easy feat, and the film succeeds in making us feel the acute exhaustion of being in a complex, borderline-toxic bond that was once sweet and deeply fulfilling. The fear of losing oneself when we lose our lover is palpable, but it is possible to move forward, to root ourselves in peaceful solitude, rather than being tossed in the eye of a tumultuous storm of passion that forever rages on.
This Is Your Song (2023) Movie Information
External Link: Official Website, Rotten Tomatoes
Director/Writer/Producer: Hassan Said
Producer: Masha Karpoukhina
Writer: Lourdes Figueroa
Cinematographer: Peggy Peralta
Release Date (Theaters): Nov 4, 2023 Limited
Runtime: 2h 5m
Jules: Briana Walsh
James: Jordan Potch
Penny: Joanna Kay
Daniel: Edward Hightower
Zeus: L. Jeffrey Moore
Cary: Luke Myers