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Saturday, September 10, 2011

"My Own Love Song", Southern blues' road movie

My Own Love Song

I like movies where music is a central part of the story. Something completely opposite to musicals by the way, where with very few exceptions, music is an excuse to hide there's no plot. And talking about literature, I love the South, the myth and its legend. "My Own Love Song" combines something of both, so it was logical that this film surprised me in a positive (didn't have many expectations) way.

The first surprise is Renée Zellweger, seriously convincing as Jane, someone who has built a mental cage around her wheelchair. She carries the movie on her shoulders, something remarkable being it so special and uneasy. Forest Whitaker and Madeline Zima also give solid performances, and Nick Nolte's appearance is one of the highlights of the film.

The second surprise is how director Olivier Dahan is capable of moving away of creating a female version of "Crazy Heart", full of clichés, while subverting, at least a little, the trite and busy path of road movies. He does that with some unconventional scenes, where dream, allegory and surrealism collides with reality, giving the film a special, somewhat magic tone, that connects the film with the American literature of the "South". Expect weird colours, atmospheres and odd visuals. And to me the stand-out of the film, a terrific and terrifying visualization of iconic bluesman Robert Johnson's legend.

And the third surprise is, of course, the music. Bob Dylan's soundtrack, although a reason to watch the film, might not groundbreaking, but the presence and relevance of the songs for the development of it is refreshing and moving. And if you choose Woody Guthrie in one of the pivotal scenes of the movie with so respect and heart, you deserve some praise.

Unfortunately, "My Own Love Song" has several issues too. The main one is the balance, Characters seem to be balancing on a very thin tightrope between the emotional collapse on one scene, to absolute euphoria in the next one. We know that the journey to Baton Rouge is a self-discovering one, but the "superficial" trip is weakly solved, having the feeling the adventures they have are unbelievable, and making some of the most visual, artistic moments, a bit like a videoclip where nothing really important, for the development of the story, is being added. The result is that "My Own Love Song" is messy as a film. An attractive chaos, with an special touch, for me at least, in its majority, but also a confusing, unbalanced drama .

SCORE: 6/10

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