Though it’s a slow burn, “A Love Song” takes its time for good reason. That is for the audience to feel every moment of Faye’s (Dickey) life as it passes by. It’s always lovely to see the very underrated and underused Dale Dickey (Hell or High Water, Winter’s Bone) get a part built just for her because it rarely does.
She chooses her roles accurately, but I wouldn’t be so sure even if she thought she’d play such a deeply rooted character. The runtime is under an hour and a half, so the story is told in the length of time films used to be, not drawn out just to be drawn out like they seem to do these days. But the slow start to this one is to give this actor a chance to show that she has the goods to bring Faye and the beauty she surrounds herself with to life and keep you guessing what’s going on.
Faye lives in a small trailer attached to her truck. She’s at a campground, eating what she catches out of the lake, living off the land. Faye watches the sun rise and go down, all while contemplating life. But why is she there? Faye seems to live alone only to prove that she can. To herself, to people who’ve pushed her away or from whom she has run away? No matter, she takes the challenge on with her head held high. She’s a minimalist to the highest degree, but you’d have to be to live like this.
She does take the opportunity to learn all about the land she’s on and what’s going on in the sky above. Since she doesn’t even have a pet, books are something Faye has to have. They’ve become her friends now in their own right.
We catch her at a time she’s picking the day she’ll next be moving on. She puts her pen to a calendar, closes her eyes and touches the calendar on September 17th. Whatever she’s up to, it has to be done by then.
But, even with her strength, she ultimately does need some kind of companionship. We learn that Lito (Wes Studi), someone she used to know, is coming to see her. They knew one another when they were growing up. It was young love. They grew up in town near the campgrounds. When he finally arrives, they reminisce about their childhood. They don’t volunteer a lot of information about their current lives. It’s evident on his face that he’s slightly uncomfortable, even though he’s happy to be there. He mentions missing Shirley. Oh! They’ve both lost their significant other. Explains a lot. So, they keep their distance out of respect for those now gone, but out of loneliness and sorrow, can they somehow rekindle what they once had? Can one night under the stars give them what they need? You hope they find a way to connect without awkwardness, but it doesn’t look promising to Faye, who seems both hopeful and doubtful.
Max Walker-Silverman should consider himself lucky to get Dickey and Studi (Last of the Mohicans, Geronimo: An American Legend) to star in his feature film debut. You’ll respect what the director did to make the ambiance feel as honest and heartfelt as possible. Like an orchestra conductor, he takes his time; lets you sit with Faye and experience her life, the good and the bad. If you like a fast-paced narrative, this isn’t for you. However, you miss the fabulous little things when you go by too fast to see them. And that’s the good stuff. There’s plenty of it here if you take the time to look.
A Love Song
Written and Directed by: Max Walker-Silverman
Starring: Dale Dickey, Wes Studi, Michelle Wilson
Runtime: 1h 21m
Distributed by: Bleecker Street