A Love Song
Sundance Film Festival NEXT Section
Reviewed for Shockya.com by Abe Friedtanzer
Director: Max Walker-Silverman
Writer: Max Walker-Silverman
Cast: Dale Dickey, Wes Studi, Michelle Wilson, Benja K. Thomas, John Way, Marty Grace Dennis
Screened at: Sundance Film Festival Online, LA, 1/20/22
Opens: January 20th, 2022
Love and romance don’t look the same for everyone. Some people meet their partners at a young age and then spend their lives together, while others might experience multiple relationships that end in separation, even after a long time of cohabitation and even having and raising children. Others don’t find the right person or don’t bother looking. Opportunities for connection may present themselves at unexpected times, and people may be open to them if the circumstances are right. A Love Song looks at a reunion later in life that brings two people back to each other years after first meeting.
Faye (Dale Dickey) has her camper van parked at a remote campsite. She is occasionally visited by neighbors who wish either to invite her for dinner or to access the campground she has chosen for their own purposes, and she waits eagerly for a mailman to arrive with a letter she is expecting. She has told an old flame from her childhood, Lito (Wes Studi), where to find her, and his eventual arrival leads to an intimate experience of sharing their lives and losses as the two widowed individuals have the chance to connect.
This film, which marks Max Walker-Silverman’s feature directorial debut, is a slow, contemplative story that begins wordlessly. Little dialogue is spoken at the start of the film, and when other characters do come to interrupt Faye’s quiet, solitary life, they don’t say much. Faye has become accustomed to being on her own, and though she would enjoy the companionship of someone else, she isn’t prone to idle or unnecessary chatter. She has come to terms with the existence she has carved out for herself, and the only thing that might enhance it is the possibility of at least exploring a romance that could have been.
There is a quiet beauty to this film, which makes great use of its surroundings to just take in the simplicity of the mountains. Its 81-minute runtime still contains minimal action, and it’s only when Lito does show up that the conversation picks up. The exchanges are still fleeting and purposeful, and the way in which they interact as people who should know each other well but haven’t seen each other in decades is powerfully conveyed. This isn’t a traditional love story, but it’s one that still speaks to a certain kind of passion and yearning for human touch.
Dickey is an actress who has been steadily appearing in film and television for more than two decades, but is not typically cast as a film’s lead. Her memorable performances have often portrayed her as an intimidating and antisocial presence, and in this part, she demonstrates a steely exterior that reveals a gentler inner nature that doesn’t lend itself much to socialization. Opposite her, Studi, who has delivered many dependable turns over an even long career, is also soft-spoken and delicate in his emphatic turn as someone else who has been on his own.
This is an interesting inclusion in the NEXT section of the Sundance Film Festival’s 2022 program, which includes “pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling.” On its face, this story doesn’t appear to be all that inventive or distinguished, but having two leads in their 60s and 70s is in itself a noteworthy factor that probably shouldn’t be so rare. A Love Song is a poignant, purposely-paced film that serves a worthwhile enough function in encouraging audiences to spend more time with people and a population that are all too rarely featured prominently in films.
Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B+
Overall – B