A Love Song2022.
Written and Directed by Max Walker-Silverman.
Starring Dale Dickey, Wes Studi, Michelle Wilson, Benja K. Thomas, John Way, and Marty Grace Dennis.
At a campground in the rural West, a woman waits alone for an old flame from her past to arrive, uncertain of his intentions while bashful about her own.
There’s an early scene during writer and director Max Walker-Silverman’s A Love Song where the seven years-widowed Faye (underappreciated character actor Dale Dickey) has a rare moment of socialization within her campsite nomad life. She enjoys a lovely dinner with two women (Michelle Wilson and Benja K. Thomas), one of which wants to get married while the other is nervous about that level of commitment, even if it’s all over her face that she is equally in love. At this moment, Faye doesn’t have much advice when asked for input.
Considering Faye wakes up every morning with her arm wrapped around nothingness, it’s safe to say that she is still grieving. It might be even fairer to question if she is pondering whether this love was worth it if it meant being left alone and brokenhearted for the rest of her days. Dale Dickey wears these emotions beautifully and expressively over her body language, as the quiet film often focuses on her daily routine.
This involves catching and boiling seafood, dealing with some strangers (mainly a young girl speaking on their behalf) that would like her to move her mobile home off of this particular campsite as they would like to dig up their relative and moves the body because the view is no longer pleasant. The latter is the quirkiness expected from a Sundance movie, but it doesn’t necessarily fit here. And that’s not just because the stunning photography from Alfonso Herrera Salcedo exquisitely captures these vast landscapes and mountains in the distance, effectively rendering their request muddled, but because A Love Song doesn’t do much connecting these stories of the dead and remembrance. Even the lesbian couple doesn’t make another appearance until the ending.
Faye is at the campsite to reunite with a childhood friend she has not seen in four decades. They have been exchanging letters for some time now; he is also widowed and has given visual cues about how she will know it is him if he visits (he drives a silver vehicle and has a big black dog). Editing and scene transitions are another highlight of A Love Song, as we see a smash cut to Faye woken up by that dog licking her face. Wes Studi’s (another remarkable underrated actor) Lito is here, with both performers convincingly selling the awkwardness and uncertainty of what to say after 40 years of estrangement.
Slowly but surely, Faye and Lito start reminiscing about their childhood and romances (much of it left a as Lito was seemingly happy to go far away from this place) and discussing their current lives, all while assisting one another through the grieving process. A Love Song has some poetically moving sequences involving a musical act, but the small, short dialogues pierce deeper. It’s a passive tale of reconnection with two often supporting players at the top of their games carrying a lyrically powerful acting duet. Not to mention, there are some unforgettably striking images where characters and natures optically become one.
A Love Song may lack depth in its bookends, but its middle stretch of reunited friends processing grief and love after love is soulful and heartrending. Not that anyone should have needed proof, but it also cements Dale Dickey and Wes Studi as reliable, commanding leads masterful in the art of body language and debut filmmaker Max Walker-Silverman as someone to put on the grid.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com