A Love Song (2022) Sundance 2022

June 10th, 2022
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Max Walker-Silverman; Cast: Dale Dickey, Wes Studi; USA 2022, 81 min.

Ten minutes into Max Walker-Silverman’s first feature, and not a word has been spoken. A long, languid opening scene sees a woman waiting in a trailer in the midst of a fabulous, wild landscape in Colorado. The tale told is that of a past with no regrets and the hope of something to be shared in the future.

The woman’s name is Faye (Dickey), her trailer, hitched to a pick-up truck, is about fifty years old and we learn a lot about her: she has a bait-trap and catches crayfish, she makes coffee in the mornings, and enjoys Radio ‘Longines Symphonette’, where a twist of the dial offers a song suited to her mood. The wireless is about as old as the trailer – and functions perfectly. The same can be said about Faye, widowed a couple of years ago. She lives on campsite No. 7, not far from the place where she spent her childhood.

Chance encounters are her social contacts: a lesbian couple who live on campsite No.2 encourage Faye to shoot the breeze about love. A young girl arrives with four monosyllabic  brothers, their truck having given up the ghost. Faye lends them her car engine and gets the lease of a canoe for “Recreation and romantic excursions”. We see her paddling alone on the nearby lake.

Finally, about half-way trough, we meet the object of Faye’s patient affections: Lito (Studi), a childhood friend, Lito arrives with a bunch of yellow wild flowers and a docile black dog. They shared a forbidden kiss in summer camp, and more recently, the loneliness of being widowed. Their re-union is almost wordless. They play their guitars, exchange a few thoughts on their dead partners. Faye shows Lito the magic of the radio, lets him dial the perfect song. Two words, not even a sentence, will decide their future. Reticent as always, Faye takes care of the present.

DoP Alfonso Herrera Salcedo supports the slow flow of what is visible on the outside with long travelling shots. The inner workings of both characters are mirrored in the mountains, the woods and the lake. Not idyllic, but real, and enduring like the people who inhabit this weathered landscape.

In Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Emma Thompson’s Nancy tries to pays her way out of loneliness in a feature with its broken promise of something wild. Walker-Silverman’s debut takes the road of internalisation, offering so much more than the sum of its parts. Faye is a distant cousin of Fern from Nomadland. Not by chance, Dan Janvey is a co-producer for both features. Welcome to a film shot from the heart. AS

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2022

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