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Review: A Love Song – “A quiet, contemplative film”

Travelling on her own in a small camper hitched to her pick up, Faye (Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone, Hell or High Water) leads a simple life.  She has a guidebook about birds that takes her through her days, and a guidebook of the stars to keep her company at night.  She catches a never ending supply of crawdads for her meals that she eats at a table for one, set overlooking the lake at campsite seven, where she has currently set up home.  She clings to her routine.

An independent woman, Faye is a master of all things mechanical, creating her own traps for food, fixing her binoculars and even replacing a car engine.  Widowed now for just under a decade, she’s a woman who has learned, or perhaps always has, relied on herself.  She’s a woman of few words, but she doesn’t really need them in her near solitary existance.  Yet, the pillow next to her remains empty, and she seems to long for a connection.  Maybe more.  

So campsite seven, amongst the quiet beauty of the Colorado Rockies, is where she waits for her high school crush Lito (Wes Studi, Dances with Wolves, The Last of the Mohicans) whom she has invited to join her.  He himself is also widowed, traveling with his black lab and when he eventually does arrive they are tentative with one another, unsure of each other’s intention or true desires.  Yet, quickly, through their shared memories the pair form a new bond forged through their own love and loss.  While rediscovering their past, they wonder what their future holds.  

Written and directed by Max Walker-Silverman in his feature debut, A Love Song is a quiet, contemplative film, one that may initially make some mild comparisons to Nomadland, but then quickly forges its own path.  For this is more a love story, both in rediscovering old love, and finding love within ones self.  Like the dial she randomly turns on her radio, leaving the song selection to fate, Faye seems okay with taking chances.  While guarded, she takes a leap of faith in her healing journey.  In wandering, her path has held a purpose.  

Set amongst the stunning landscape that is the American west (captured by director of photography Alfonso Herrera Salcedo) the story of Faye and her reunion with Lito is one born of patience – both of the audience and its protagonist. Walker-Silverman lets things unfold at a slow pace here, with no dialogue even occurring until almost ten minutes into the 81 minute film.  Yet there is something quite captivating watching Dale Dickey go through Faye’s simple every day routine.  There’s some peacefulness in her performance that pierces through her more rugged appearance and surroundings. 

In fact A Love Song is a fine showcase for these two veteran actors, people whom Hollywood wouldn’t typically show falling in love.  These are two characters who have loved and lost already. Their faces show the places they’ve been and the things they’ve seen.  They’ve had their turn.  Yet Walker-Silverman embraces this, closes in on it and finds the still vulnerable and intimate side of their experiences to create this mature, and tender, look at love.  While sometimes the film can feel a little stagnant, it commits to letting the story tell itself instead of pushing it to fit a mould.  Walker-Silverman proves himself a promising and talented storyteller with an eye for the unconventional.

If you’re wanting a quippy, fast paced modern romance then this isn’t it.  A Love Song requires a specific mood to be best enjoyed, one where you’re happy to take in some silence and perhaps discover the joy, alongside Faye, in finding and embracing solitude.  It’s a time to perhaps reminisce yourself about what love truly means, and how it transforms.  And, as the director so eloquently put in his own words, “That the power of love can lie in its mere possibilities.” 

A Love Song is in theatres July 29th.

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