Directed by Hassan Said, who co-wrote the script with Lourdes Figueroa, This Is Your Song is a romantic drama of unbridled friction and heartache. In most, if not all, scenarios, loving someone isn’t enough when that love is holding you back, be it emotionally, physically, or professionally. This notion could very well be true for Jules (Briana Walsh) and James (Jordan Potch), a couple grappling with their clashing emotions and desires, as well as the alarming truths that may harm their relationship beyond repair.
Love is a tricky, elusive concept, perhaps better understood as a feeling. But what happens when love and personal ambition become entangled? The production gets underway with Jules on-stage performing for a packed audience. She delivers her lines with ample fervor, delineating her as a devoted and talented actress. Jules is in her element when performing, so imagine if she were to give up that pursuit for anyone or anything.
After the show, Jules catches up with her exuberant friend Penny (Joanna Kay). The camera follows the two as they confabulate in the dressing room and continue their discussion outside the room. Jules can’t shake the feeling that James doesn’t care about her passion for theater. While walking home after the play, Jules is clinging to her paramour’s arm, indicating that she still cares about him, not to mention it is their wedding anniversary. Their night of celebration culminates in a 97-minute continuous take of the couple swapping gestures of affection and animosity. Jules and James communicate by means of accolades, niceties, leers, and insults.
“Jules and James communicate by means of accolades, niceties, leers, and insults.”
This Is Your Song mostly follows Jules and James as they are confined to their deluxe San Francisco apartment. One moment, they’re embracing, and the next moment, they’re at each other’s throats. As a result, the drama is emotionally exhausting — but love is at times exhausting and other times rewarding, perhaps even dangerous, given how the arguments accelerate here. The relationship highs and lows are somewhat tedious, but Walsh and Potch give emotionally complex performances that sustain enough of the momentum. Potch’s portrayal is slightly more chilling as the unpredictability of how the character will react does cause alarm. With Walsh, however, you feel every emotion as each gesture and escalation in pitch reverberates.
On top of that, director of photography Peggy Peralta adroitly moves between the apartment rooms, finding the right angles and shot sizes to highlight the couple’s volatile emotional state. In a bedroom scene, Peralta stays on Jules in a medium close-up as she vividly recounts an incident with the intent to get a reaction out of James. Eventually, there’s a pan to James, and the camera inches forward to underscore a man about to break. The relational tension is palpable.
What the actors and filmmakers accomplish to venture from one highly emotional segment to the next while in a single take is nothing short of astonishing. Love is messy, and that messiness is at the center of Said’s poignant and stressful meditation on love’s many imperfections and strengths. Exquisitely made and fearlessly performed, This Is Your Song is daring independent cinema.
For screening information, visit the This Is Your Song official website.
"…Exquisitely made and fearlessly performed, This Is Your Song is daring independent cinema"