A Love Song Review: Sparse Western Romance Is Saved By Dickey's Performance

In A Love Song, a letter brings two people together who haven't seen each other in decades. With time passing, it's easy to forget the contours of a person — the way they look, the way they move, the way they say a name. But, as if from a past life, sometimes they fit right back into the picture and maybe they can even replace something that has been missing for quite some time. Directed by Max Walker-Silverman, A Love Song is a quiet but stirring fable about reunions, love, and time set against the backdrop of the American West. What the film lacks in its sparse script is more than made up for by the two actors who share the majority of screen time together.

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A Love Song is anchored by lead performances from Dale Dickey as Faye and Wes Studi as Lito. The pair are due to meet in the shadow of the Colorado Mountains. Faye, who has known Lito for decades and hasn't seen him in just as long, has been widowed for seven years. When Lito finally does arrive at her campsite, it kicks off an exploration of sorts as the two reacquaint themselves with each other and maybe even realize that Faye asking Lito on a date all those years ago in grade school foreshadowed their feelings for each other years later.

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Dale Dickey and Wes Studi in A Love Song

Parked at campsite 7, Faye's routine is put on display early on in the film. Every morning, she makes coffee on the stove and boils crawfish that she caught from the lake in front of her trailer. She waits for something to come in the mail and joins a couple for dinner, telling them it's been years ("enough decades to stand on") since she's seen Lito. This does well in building up anticipation for Lito's impending arrival. Like Faye, the audience wants him to get to campsite 7. She's clearly excited and Dickey infuses Faye with a sort of childlike wonder, as if her waiting for this man she knew in her youth has allowed it to resurface. During one fake-out, Faye stands up as a car approaches, sipping her coffee to get the taste of crawfish out of her mouth while tucking her hair behind her ears. It's not Lito yet and she returns to her routine, ignoring the mountains on the horizon in favor of something less tangible.

A Love Story's naturalism and its gorgeous setting will immediately evoke Chloé Zhao's critically acclaimed movie Nomadland,  even if it fails to live up to that film's lofty ideas. Still, the American West and the mythos associated with it is a worthy backdrop for a story as seemingly expansive as Faye and Lito's. The decades that have passed since the pair have seen each other linger over the proceedings like the mountains that populate the backdrop. The time only makes their reunion ache with more immediacy, as if the next day could bring another decade wherein they may not see each other again.

a love song movie review

Though the script may be sparse, Dickey is charming and brilliant in her role as Faye, allowing the veteran actor — who is most known for small roles in everything from Breaking Bad to Winter's Bone and Iron Man 3 — to really shine as the reserved frontier woman. Dickey couldn't have a better screen partner in Studi. The pair's meeting, which takes place over the course of one day, is wonderfully portrayed as they play the game of getting to know one another again after so many years have gone by. Unfortunately, A Love Song doesn't let that day linger for too long. Maybe that's the point, but it still feels like the film sells itself a bit short when it comes to its central relationship. Regardless, what A Love Song lacks in execution it more than makes up for in stellar performances and beautifully directed scenes.

2022-08-06T10:46:04.000Z

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