‘Flora and Son’ and the unspoken truth about songwriting | ET REALITY


Revered record producer Rick Rubin once asked me if I was ready for a change. my band on thursday It came off our third album, “War All the Time.” We had just cracked the Top 10 on the Billboard album chart by producing anthems for the same post-hardcore genre we’d helped shape, but Rubin was clear: the creative clock was already ticking. At a certain point, staying the same meant disappearing.

With “Flora and Son” (streaming on Apple TV+), writer-director John Carney arrives at a similar question. Their rough-and-tumble debut, “Once” (2007), had been an unexpected hit: a no-budget, boy-loses-girl story familiar to every musician who’s ever picked up a guitar to try to win someone back. His second, “Begin Again” (2014), was a disappointing sophomore slump at the hands of the Hollywood film machine, a situation that composers face into the hands of the main labeling machine. Think “October” by U2 or “Into the Unknown” by Bad Religion. While “Once” trusted the audience, “Begin Again” spoke out loud every subtext. Was it the rookie’s luck success of “Once” or simply the sparks thrown by one of its leads, Glen Hansard? Carney’s old bandmate in the Frames?

A critical success, “Sing Street” (2016) answered one question by raising another: Yes, Carney could successfully make movies about lovestruck boys with guitars, but was that all he was capable of? Would your next movie of his be a total reinvention or would the song remain the same? When Rick Rubin asked me a similar question, I told him that he wanted our next record to be “less real and more true.” In fact, to the dismay of our audience, we abandoned our own realism and shot for the moon with “A City by the Light Divided,” produced by Dave Fridmann.

Carney, for his part, wisely chooses to edit out the weaknesses and lean on the strengths with “Flora and Son,” featuring characters both real and real. and TRUE. Each one has their own musical motivations. Ian (Jack Reynor), Flora’s arrogant ex, sees music stardom as a means to put his own interests before everyone around him. Although his own quest for fame has been hindered, his faith is as bright as the image in the mirror. Flora’s son, Max (played by relative newcomer Oren Kinlan), is a quick learner. Watching his more popular classmates get the attention of his crush through his rap videos on YouTube, Max teaches himself GarageBand. Carney knows that we start our own musical path for external reasons (getting the girl, making money, telling the ex to leave him), but he also understands that those who stick with music must eventually find their home within our souls. Flora’s guitar teacher, Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), has internalized music as a sacred spiritual path, and Gordon-Levitt fills him with both the generosity of a devotee and the quiet pretentiousness of a prematurely enlightened monk.

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